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CLAia : 

Call Ko.. 

D.aA. 79. 


The Zen Teaching 
of Huang Po 


Being the Teaching of the ^en Master 
Huang Po as recorded by the scholar 
P^ei Hsiu of the T^ang Dynasty 



p * 

Rendered into English by 


(Chu Gh'an) 

A complete translation of the Huang Po Ghu‘an Hsiu 
Fa Yao, including the previously unpublished Wan Ling 
Record containing dialogues^ sermons and anecdotes 



Oriental & Foreign Boei -Ff I! i 
P^.H65, Nai Sarak,DELHI-6 

tyB-202 Great Portland Street ^ London^ W.i 






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First published igsS 


Aoo. No...... 

© John Blofeld 1958 

Set in ten point Baskerville, two points 
leaded^ and printed in Great Britain 
by The Anchor Press^ Ltd,^ 
TiptreCj Essex 


Translator’s Introduction 7 

P'^ei Hsiu’s Preface 27 


The Ghhn Chou Record (Sermons and 
Dialogues) 29 


The Wan Ling Record (Dialogues^, Sermons 
and Anecdotes) 67 



The Text 

The present volume is a complete translation of the Huang 
Po Chinan Hsin Fa Taoy a ninth-century Chinese Buddhist 
text, much of which now appears in English for the first 
time. It contains a concise account of the sublime teachings 
of a great Master of the Dhyana Sect, to which, in accord- 
ance with current Western practice, I shall henceforth refer 
by its Japanese name of Zen. Zen is often regarded as a 
uniquely Far Eastern development of Buddhism, but Zen 
followers claim that their Doctrine stems directly from 
Gautama Buddha himself. This text, which is one of the 
principle Zen works, follows closely the teachings pro- 
claimed in the Diamond Siitra or Jewel of Transcendental 
Wisdom^ which has been ably translated by Arnold Price 
and published by the Buddhist Society, London. It is also 
close in spirit to The Sutra of Wei Lang {Hui Ning)^ another 
of the Buddhist Society’s publications. But I have been 
deeply struck by the astonishing similarity to our text in 
spirit and terminology of the not-so-Far Eastern, eighth- 
century Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation^ edited by Evans- 
Wentz and published by the Oxford University Press. In 
my opinion, these four books are among the most brilliant 
expositions of the highest Wisdom which have so far ap- 
peared in our language; and, of them all, the present text 


translator’s introduction 

and the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation present the 
Doctrine in a form best suited to the needs of Western 

The Place of This Text in Buddhism 

Zen is a branch of the great Mahayana School prevailing 
in China and the more northerly countries of Eastern Asia, 
so its teachings are not accepted as orthodox Buddhism by 
followers of Hinayana or the Southern School. However, 
Western scholars are no longer unanimous in regarding 
Hinayana as being the sole guardian of the truths pro- 
claimed by Buddhism’s illustrious Founder, despite the 
early date of Hinayana’s principal texts. The division into 
two schools took place some two thousand years ago in 
Northern India, since when Mahayanists have accepted 
the teachings of the sister school as part of the true 
Doctrine; though the latter, with less tolerance, repudiates 
whatever doctrines are specifically Mahayana. Zen, which 
appeared in the open much later, submits that, while all 
Buddhist sects present the truth in varying degrees, Zen 
alone preserves the very highest teachings of all — ^teachings 
based on a mysterious transmission of Mind which took 
place between Gautama Buddha and Mahaka§yapa, the 
only one of his disciples capable of receiving this transmis- 
sion. Opinions as to the truth of this story naturally vary, 
but Masters like Huang Po obviously speak from some deep 
inner experience. He and his followers were concerned 
solely with a direct perception of truth and cannot have 
been even faintly interested in arguments about the 
historical orthodoxy of their beliefs. The great mystics of 


translator’s introduction 

the world, such as Plotinus and Ekhart, who have plumbed 
the depths of consciousness and come face to face with the^ 
Inner Light, the all-pervading Silence, are so close to being 
unanimous concerning their experience of Reality that I, 
personally, am left in no doubt as to the truth of their 
accounts. Huang Po, in his more nearly everyday lan- 
guage, is clearly describing the same experience as theirs, 
and I assume that Gautama Buddha’s mystical Enlighten- 
ment beneath the Bo Tree did not differ from theirs, 
unless PERHAPS in intensity and in its utter completeness. 
Could one suppose otherwise, one would have to accept 
several forms of absolute truth! Or else one would be driven 
to believe that some or all of these Masters were lost in 
clouds of self-deception. So, however slender the evidence 
for Zen’s claim to have been founded by Gautama Buddha 
himself, I do not for one moment doubt that Huang Po 
was expressing in his own way the same experience of 
Eternal Truth which Gautama Buddha and others, Bud- 
dhist and non-Buddhist, have expressed in theirs. Moreover, 
since first embarking on the translation of this text, I have 
been astonished by its very close similarity to the teaching 
contained in the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation which 
is attributed to the Lotus-Born Padma Sambhava. Since 
both are approximately of the same date, I suppose they 
COULD have derived from the same literary or oral source, 
but it seems much more probable that the two texts embody 
two different people’s intimate perceptions of eternal truth. 
However, there are many who regard things otherwise and, 
in any case, it is proper for me to give some account of the 
traditional origin of Zen and of the modern theories 
concerning it. 


The Origin, Growth and Expansion 
OF Zen (Dhyana) Buddhism 

Traditional Origin 

Gautama Buddha is said to have modified the exposition 
of his Doctrine to suit the different capacities of his various 
disciples and of those others who listened to his discourses. 
Once, at the end of a sermon, he picked a flower and held 
it up for the assembled monks to see. Mahaka§yapa, who 
alone understood the profound meaning of this gesture, 
responded with a smile. Later the Buddha called this dis- 
ciple to him in private and mystically transmitted to him 
the wordless doctrine, or Vith Mind transmitted Mind’. 
Mahaka§yapa, in his turn, mystically transmitted the 
Doctrine to Ananda, who thus became second in the line 
of twenty-eight Indian Patriarchs. The last of these was 
Bodhidharma, who travelled to China in the sixth century 
A.D. Here he became the First of the Chinese Patriarchs, 
who continued the transmission down to Hui N6ng (Wei 
Lang), the Sixth and last. Divisions within the sect followed 
and no more Patriarchs were created. 

Theories Concerning the Origin and Development of the Sect 
Buddhism, officially introduced into China in a.d. 6i, 
probably reached the coast of Shantung as early as the 
first or second century b.g. Hinayana did not survive there 
for long, but Mahayana flourished exceedingly; various 
sects of Indian origin were developed and new sects created. 
One of the latest sects to appear was Zen, which rapidly 
attained great influence. Though an Indian origin was 


translator’s introduction 

claimed for it, many people have doubted the truth of this; 
and some have gone so far as to doubt the existence of 
Bodhidharma himself. If, as I prefer to think, there was 
really such a person, he probably came to China from South 
India by way of Canton and visited the rulers of two 
Chinese states — for China was then divided, as so often in 
her long history. 

Professor Daisetz Suzuki accepts the existence of Bod- 
hidharma, but suggests that his teachings were derived 
from the Lankavatara Sutra, which appears to contain the 
germs of the wordless doctrine. Dr. Hu Shih accepts neither 
the historical reality of Bodhidharma nor the authenticity 
of the earlier Zen works, regarding even the famous Sutra 
of Hui N6ng (Wei Lang), the Sixth Patriarch, as a forgery 
of later date. To support his contentions, he adduces several 
eighth-century manuscripts discovered fairly recently in the 
Tun Huang caves, which differ both in name and sub- 
stance from the traditionally accepted works of the Zen 
Masters. Dr. Hu Shih even describes Zen as a Chinese 
revolt against Buddhism — regarded as an alien doctrine 
from India. 

I do not see that Zen sets itself up in opposition to other 
forms of Buddhism, including those whose Indian origin is 
more certain; for all sects regard dhyana-practice as an 
important means towards Enlightenment, i.e. the practice 
of turning the mind towards and striving to pierce the veils 
of sensory perception and conceptual thought in order to 
arrive at an intuitive perception of reality. Zen does, how- 
ever, emphasize this to the exclusion or near-exclusion of 
much else, and it also differs from most other sects in re- 
garding Enlightenment as a process which finally occurs in 
less time than it takes to blink an eye. Thus it is a form of 


translator’s introduction 

Buddhism suited to those who prefer inward contemplation 
to the study of scriptures or to the performance of good 
works. Yet Zen is not unique in giving special emphasis to 
one particular aspect of the whole doctrine — if no one did 
that, there would be no sects. Moreover, Right Meditation 
(sAMMASAMADHi) forms the final step of the Noble Eightfold 
Path, which is accepted as the very foundation of Buddhism 
by Mahayanists and Hinayanists alike — and dhyana- 
practice is aimed precisely at accomplishing that. 

Hence, though there is very little evidence to prove or 
disprove the Indian origin of Zen, it does not seem to me 
especially unlikely that Bodhidharma did in fact arrive in 
China, bringing with him a doctrine of great antiquity in- 
herited from his own teachers, a doctrine which infers that 
the seven preceding steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are 
to be regarded as preparation for the Eighth. And, if the 
Eighth is not held to be the outcome of the other Seven, it 
is difficult to understand why terms like ‘Path’ and ‘steps’ 
were employed. 

The late Venerable T‘ai Hsii, exemplifying a proper 
Buddhist attitude of broad tolerance, once described the 
various sects as so many beads strung on a single rosary. 
Mahayana Buddhists are encouraged to think for them- 
selves and are free to choose whichever path best suits their 
individual requirements; the sectarian bitterness of the West 
is unknown in China. As the Chinese, though seldom 
puritanical, have generally been an abstemious people, 
sects chiefly emphasizing the strict observance of moral 
precepts — as does Hinayana — have seldom appealed to 
them, which may be one of the main reasons why the 
Southern School of Buddhism failed to take permanent root 
in China. Furthermore, Chinese intellectuals have since 


translator’s introduction 

ancient times inclined to mild scepticism; to these people, 
Zen’s austere ‘simplicity’ and virtual lack of ritualism must 
have made a strong appeal. In another way, too, the 
ground in China had been well prepared for Zen. On the 
one hand, centuries of Confucianism had predisposed 
scholars against the fine-spun metaphysical speculation in 
which Indian Buddhists have indulged with so much en- 
thusiasm; on the other, the teaching of Lao Tzfi, Chuang 
Tzu, the Taoist sages, had to a great extent anticipated 
Zen quietism and prepared the Chinese mind for the re- 
ception of a doctrine in many ways strikingly similar to 
their own. (For somewhat similar reasons, Zen has begun 
to appeal to those people in the West who are torn between 
the modern tradition of scepticism and the need for a pro- 
found doctrine which will give meaning to their existence.) 

So it may be that the historical authenticity of Zen is of 
relatively little importance, except to a limited number of 
scholars. It will certainly not seem of much importance to 
those who see in the teachings of the Zen Masters a brilliant 
reflection of some valid inner realization of Truth. Zen has 
long flourished in China and Japan and is now beginning 
to develop in the West, because those who have put its 
teachings to a prolonged practical test have discovered that 
they satisfy certain deep spiritual needs. 

The Z^n Master Huang Po 

When Hui Neng (Wei Lang), the Sixth Patriarch, received 
the transmission from Mind to Mind, the Zen Sect had 
already split into two branches. The Northern Branch, 
which taught that the process of Enlightenment is gradual, 
flourished for a while under imperial patronage, but did 
not long survive. Meanwhile, the Southern Branch, with 


translator’s introduction 

its doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment, continued to expand 
and, later, to subdivide. The most important of the Sixth 
Patriarch’s successors was Ma Tsu (Tao I) who died in 
A.D. 788. Huang Po, variously regarded as one or two 
generations junior to him, seems to have died as late as 
850, after transmitting the Wordless Doctrine to I Hstian, 
the founder of the great Lin Chi (Rinzai) Sect which still 
continues in China and flourishes widely in Japan. So 
Huang Po is in some sense regarded as the founder of this 
great Branch. Like all Chinese monks, he had several 
names, being known in his lifetime as Master Hsi Yiin and 
as Master T‘uan Chi; his posthumous name is taken from 
that of Mount Huang Po where he resided for many years. 
In Japan he is generally known as Obaku, which is the 
Japanese way of pronouncing the Chinese characters for 
Huang Po. 

The Doctrine of 

Zen is already a familiar doctrine to many Western people, 
thanks to the comprehensive and illuminating works of 
Dr. Daisetz Tairo Suzuki, and to books by Western 
scholars, such as Mr. Christmas Humphreys’ delightful 
Buddhism. At first sight Zen works must seem so para- 
doxical as to bewilder the reader. On one page we are told 
that everything is indivisibly one Mind, on another that 
the moon is very much a moon and a tree indubitably a 
tree. Yet it is clear that this is not paradox for the sake of 
entertainment, for there are several million people who 
regard Zen as the most serious thing in life. 

All Buddhists take Gautama Buddha’s Enlightenment as 
their starting point and endeavour to attain to that transcen- 
dental knowledge that will bring them face to face with 


translator’s introduction 

Reality, thereby delivering them from rebirth into the 
space-time realm forever. Zen followers go further. They 
are not content to pursue Enlightenment through aeons of 
varied existences inevitably bound up with pain and ignor- 
ance, approaching with infinite slowness the Supreme 
Experience which Christian mystics have described as 
‘union with the Godhead’. They believe in the possibility 
of attaining Full Enlightenment both here and now 
through determined efforts to rise beyond conceptual 
thought and to grasp that Intuitive Knowledge which is 
the central fact of Enlightenment. Furthermore, they insist 
that the experience is both sudden and complete. While 
the striving may require years, the reward manifests 
itself in a flash. But to attain this reward, the practice 
of virtue and dispassion is insufficient. It is necessary 
to rise above such relative concepts as good and evil, 
sought and found, Enlightened and unenlightened, and all 
the rest. 

To make this point clearer, let us consider some Christian 
ideas of God, God is regarded as the First Principle, un- 
caused and unbegat, which logically implies perfection; 
such a being cannot be discovered through the relativity 
of time and space. Then comes the concept ‘God is good’ 
which, as Christian mystics have pointed out, detracts from 
His perfection; for to be good implies not being evil — a 
limitation which inevitably destroys the unity and whole- 
ness inseparable from perfection. This, of course, is not in- 
tended to imply that ‘God is evil’, or that ‘God is both 
good and evil’. To a mystic. He is none of these things, for 
He transcends them all. Again, the idea of God as the 
creator of the universe suggests a dualism, a distinction 
between creator and created. This, if valid, places God on 


translator’s introduction 

a lower level than perfection, for there can be neither unity 
nor wholeness where A excludes B or B excludes A. 

Zen followers (who have much in common with mystics 
of other faiths) do not use the term ‘God’, being wary of 
its dualistic and anthropomorphic implications. They 
prefer to talk of ‘the Absolute’ or ‘the One Mind’, for which 
they employ many synonyms according to the aspect to be 
emphasized in relation to something finite. Thus, the word 
‘Buddha’ is used as a synonym for the Absolute as well as 
in the sense of Gautama, the Enlightened One, for it is held 
that the two are identical. A Buddha’s Enlightenment 
denotes an intuitive realization of his unity with the 
Absolute from which, after the death of his body, nothing 
remains to divide him even in appearance. Of the Absolute 
nothing whatever can be postulated; to say that it exists 
excludes non-existence; to say that it does not exist excludes 
existence. Furthermore, Zen followers hold that the 
Absolute, or union with the Absolute, is not something to 
be attained; one does not enter Nirvana, for entrance to 
a place one has never left is impossible. The experience 
commonly called ‘entering Nirvana’ is, in fact, an intuitive 
realization of that Self-nature which is the true Nature of 
all things. The Absolute, or Reality, is regarded as having 
for sentient beings two aspects. The only aspect perceptible 
to the unenlightened is the one in which individual pheno- 
mena have a separate though purely transitory existence 
within the limits of space-time. The other aspect is space- 
less and timeless; moreover all opposites, all distinctions 
and ‘entities’ of every kind, are here seen to be One. Yet 
neither is this second aspect, alone, the highest fruit of 
Enlightenment, as many contemplatives suppose; it is only 
when both aspects are perceived and reconciled that the 


translator’s introduction 

beholder may be regarded as truly Enlightened. Yet, from 
that moment, he ceases to be the beholder, for he is con- 
scious of no division between beholding and beheld. This 
leads to further paradoxes, unless the use of words is 
abandoned altogether. It is incorrect to employ such 
mystical terminology as T dwell in the Absolute’, ‘The 
Absolute dwells in me’, or ‘I am penetrated by the Abso- 
lute’, etc.; for, when space is transcended, the concepts of 
whole and part are no longer valid; the part is the whole — 
I AM the Absolute, except that I am no longer ‘I’. What I 
behold then is my real Self, which is the true nature of all 
things; see-er and seen arc one and the same, yet there is no 
seeing, just as the eye cannot behold itself. 

The single aim of the true Zen follower is so to train his 
mind that all thought-processes based on the dualism in- 
separable from ‘ordinary’ life are transcended, their place 
being taken by that Intuitive Knowledge which, for the 
first time, reveals to a man what he really is. If All is One, 
then knowledge of a being’s true self-nature — his original 
Self— is equally a knowledge of all-nature, the nature of 
everything in the universe. Those who have actually 
achieved this tremendous experience, whether as Chris- 
tians, Buddhists or members of other faiths, are agreed as 
to the impossibility of communicating it in words. They 
may employ words to point the way to others, but, until 
the latter have achieved the experience for themselves, they 
can have but the merest glimmer of the truth — a poor in- 
tellectual concept of something lying infinitely beyond the 
highest point ever reached by the human intellect. 

It will now be clear that Zen Masters do not employ 
paradoxes from a love of cheap mystification, though they 
do occasionally make humorous use of them when humour 



translator’s introduction 

seems needed. Usually, it is the utter impossibility of 
describing the Supreme Experience which explains the 
paradoxical nature of their speech. To affirm or deny is to 
limit; to limit is to shut out the light of truth; but, as words 
of some sort must be used in order to set disciples on to the 
right path, there naturally arises a series of paradoxes — 
sometimes of paradox within paradox within paradox. 

It should perhaps be added that Huang Po’s frequent 
criticisms of those Buddhists who follow the more conven- 
tional path, cultivating knowledge, good works and a com- 
passionate heart through successive stages of existence, are 
not intended to call into question the value to humanity of 
such excellent practices. As a Buddhist, Huang Po must 
certainly have regarded these things as necessary for our 
proper conduct in daily life; indeed, we are told by P‘ei 
Hsiu that his way of life was exalted; but he was concerned 
lest concepts such as virtue should lead people into dual- 
ism, and lest they should hold Enlightenment to be a 
gradual process attainable by other means than intuitive 

Huang Po's Use of the term * The One Mind* 

The text indicates that Huang Po was not entirely satisfied 
with his choice of the word ‘Mind’ to symbolize the inex- 
pressible Reality beyond the reach of conceptual thought, 
for he more than once explains that the One Mind is not 
really mind at all. But he had to use some term or other, 
and ‘Mind’ had often been used by his predecessors. As 
Mind conveys intangibility, it no doubt seemed to him a 
good choice, especially as the use of this term helps to make 
it clear that the part of a man usually regarded as an indi- 
vidual entity inhabiting his body is, in fact, not his property 


translator’s introduction 

at all, but common to him and to everybody and every- 
thing else. (It must be remembered that, in Chinese, ‘hsin’ 
means not only ‘mind’, but ‘heart’ and, in some senses at 
least, ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ — in short, the so-called real man, 
the inhabitant of the body-house.) If we prefer to substitute 
the word ‘Absolute’, which Huang Po occasionally uses 
himself, we must take care not to read into the text any 
preconceived notions as to the nature of the Absolute. And, 
of course, ‘the One Mind’ is no less misleading, unless we 
abandon all preconceived ideas, as Huang Po intended. 

In an earlier translation of the first part of this book, I 
ventured to substitute ‘Universal Mind’ for ‘the One Mind’, 
hoping that the meaning would be clearer. However, 
various critics objected to this, and I have come to see that 
my term is liable to a different sort of misunderstanding; 
it is therefore no improvement on ‘the One Mind’, which 
at least has the merit of being a literal translation. 


The book tells us very little about the practice of what, for 
want of a better translation, is often called meditation or 
contemplation. Unfortunately both these words are mis- 
leading as they imply some object of meditation or of con- 
templation; and, if objectlessness be stipulated, then they 
may well be taken to lead to a blank or sleeplike trance, 
which is not at all the goal of Zen. Huang Po seems to have 
assumed that his audience knew something about this 
practice — as most keen Buddhists do, of course. He gives 
few instructions as to how to ‘meditate’, but he does tell 
us what to avoid. If, conceiving of the phenomenal world 
as illusion, we try to shut it out, we make a false distinction 
between the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’. So we must not shut 


translator’s introduction 

anything out, but try to reach the point where all distinc- 
tions are seen to be void, where nothing is seen as desirable 
or undesirable, existing or not existing. Yet this does not 
mean that we should make our minds blank, for then we 
should be no better than blocks of wood or lumps of stone; 
moreover, if we remained in this state, we should not be 
able to deal with the circumstances of daily life or be 
capable of observing the Zen precept: ‘When hungry, eat.’ 
Rather, we must cultivate dispassion, realizing that none 
of the attractive or unattractive attributes of things have 
any absolute existence. 

Enlightenment, when it comes, will come in a flash. 
There can be no gradual, no partial, Enlightenment, The 
highly trained and zealous adept may be said to have pre- 
pared himself for Enlightenment, but by no means can he 
be regarded as partially Enlightened — just as a drop of 
water may get hotter and hotter and then, suddenly, boil; 
at no stage is it partly boiling, and, until the very moment 
of boiling, no qualitative change has occurred. In effect, 
however, we may go through three stages — two of non- 
Enlightenment and one of Enlightenment. To the great 
majority of people, the moon is the moon and the trees are 
trees. The next stage (not really higher than the first) is to 
perceive that moon and trees are not at all what they seem 
to be, since ‘all is the One Mind’. When this stage is 
achieved, we have the concept of a vast uniformity in which 
all distinctions are void; and, to some adepts, this concept 
may come as an actual perception, as ‘real’ to them as were 
the moon and the trees before. It is said that, when En- 
lightenment really comes, the moon is again very much 
the moon and the trees exactly trees; but with a difference, 
for the Enlightened man is capable of perceiving both unity 


translator’s introduction 

and multiplicity without the least contradiction between 

Huang Po’s Attitude Towards 
Other Schools and Sects of Buddhism 

As this book is likely to be read by many Buddhists who 
belong to the Theravadin (Hinayana School) or to Ma- 
hayana sects other than Zen, some explanation is needed 
here to forestall possible misunderstandings. A casual 
glance at our text or at some other Zen works might well 
give the impression that non-Zen Buddhism is treated too 
lightly. It should be remembered that Huang Po was talk- 
ing principally to people who were already firm and 
serious-minded Buddhists. He tells us himself that nothing 
written down should be understood out of its context or 
without regard to the circumstances under which the re- 
corded sermon was given. I feel that had he been speaking 
to non-Buddhists, his references to the ‘Three Vehicles’ 
would have been couched in different language. A careful 
study of this work has persuaded me that Huang Po felt no 
desire to belittle the virtue of those Buddhists who disagreed 
with his methods, but he did feel strongly that the Zen 
method is productive of the fastest results. He was much 
concerned to show that scripture-study and the perform- 
ance of good works cannot lead to Enlightenment, unless 
the concept-forming processes of the finite mind are brought, 
properly, under control. As for good works and right living, 
we learn from P‘ei Hsiu and others that his own way of 
life was exalted, but he had constantly to combat the notion 
that good works in themselves can bring us nearer to 


translator’s introduction 

Enlightenment. Moreover, when the time has come for a 
Buddhist to discipline his mind so as to rise above duality, 
he enters a stage where the notions of both good and evil 
must be transcended like any other form of dualism. The 
Master was aware that many of the Buddhists he was 
preaching to had probably fallen into the all-too-common 
error of performing good works with a conscious desire to 
store up merit for themselves — a desire which is a form of 
attachment as inimical to Enlightenment as any other form 
of attachment. (The translator knows of several ‘sincere’ 
Buddhists who lead lives very far from noble and who in- 
dulge sometimes in actions destructive of the happiness of 
others, but who firmly believe that their regular offerings 
to the Sangha and their periodic attendance at temple 
services will build up enough good karma to cancel out the 
results of their folly and their uncharitableness to others!) 

As to the study of sutras and written works of all kinds 
on Buddhism, Huang Po must surely have assumed that 
most of the people who had taken the trouble to come to 
his mountain retreat for instruction were already fully 
conversant with Buddhist doctrine, and that what they 
lacked was the knowledge of mind-control. It is clear from 
his own words that he realized the necessity of books and 
teachings of various kinds for people less advanced. Unless 
a man is first attracted to Mysticism by the written doctrines 
delivered by the Lord Buddha or by other great teachers, 
he is most unlikely to see the necessity for mind-control, 
the central object of Huang Po’s own teaching. Hence the 
Doctrine of Words must inevitably precede the Wordless 
Doctrine, except in certain rare cases. I am convinced that 
Huang Po had no intention of belittling the ‘Three 
Vehicles’; but that, since he was talking to an audience 


translator’s introduction 

already steeped in those teachings, he wished to emphasize 
that mind-control (Sammasamadhi) is the highest teaching 
of all; and that without it all other practices are in vain 
for those who aim at gaining the mystical intuition which 
leads to that ineffable experience called Nirvana. 

Buddhists of other sects have often been far less charitable 
than Huang Po towards those sects with which — usually 
through ignorance — they have disagreed. Thus the Pure 
Land Sect or Amidism is often held up to scorn and labelled 
‘unBuddhist’, the ‘antithesis of Buddhism’ and so on. This 
is partly because many Amidists misunderstand the teach- 
ing of their own sect, but what religion or sect would not 
deserve our scorn if its merits were to be judged by the 
popular beliefs of the general body of its followers? In fact, 
as I have stated in the commentary to the text, Amidism 
in its pure form is excellent Buddhism, for Amida Buddha 
symbolizes the Dharmakaya (the Buddha in the aspect of 
oneness with the Absolute), and entrance to the Pure Land 
symbolizes intuitive understanding of our own oneness with 
realty. Furthermore, Professor Suzuki has somewhere made 
the point that more Amidists achieve satori (a sudden flash 
of Enlightenment) than Zen adepts, because their single- 
minded concentration while reciting the formula ‘Namo 
Amida Buddha’ is an excellent form of mind-control, 
achievable even by simple people who have no idea of the 
true significance of ‘Amida’ and ‘Pure Land’. 

Another sect which comes in for much obloquy, especi- 
ally from Western Buddhist writers, is that commonly 
known in English as Lamaism. To those who suppose that 
Lamaism has nothing to offer besides concessions to the 
superstitions of uneducated Tibetans (more than equalled 
by the ignorant superstitions found in more ‘advanced 


translator’s introduction 

countries’), the Oxford Tibetan Series so ably edited by 
Dr. Evans-Wentz provides unanswerable proof to the con- 
trary. Huang Po’s seemingly discourteous references to 
other sects are justified by the urgency and sincerity of his 
single-minded desire to emphasize the necessity for mind- 
control. The discourtesy exhibited by many sectarian 
writers would seem to have less justification. 

The Division into Sermons, Dialogues 
AND Anecdotes 

The sermons alone present the doctrine in its entirety; the 
dialogues and anecdotes, while offering little that is new 
in the way of subject-matter, greatly amplify our under- 
standing of what has gone before. This division is quite 
usual with Zen works. Zen Masters hold that an indi- 
vidual’s full understanding of Zen is often precipitated by 
the hearing of a single phrase exactly calculated to destroy 
his particular demon of ignorance; so they have always 
favoured the brief paradoxical dialogue as a means of in- 
struction, finding it of great value in giving a sudden jolt 
to a pupil’s mind which may propel him towards or over 
the brink of Enlightenment, 

Many of the dialogues recorded here took place in public 
assembly. We must not suppose that the erudite and ac- 
complished P^ei Hsiu asked all the questions himself; for 
some of them indicate a mediocrity of understanding 
unworthy of that great scholar. 


The Author of the Chinese Version 

P‘ei Hsiu was a scholar-oiBcial of great learning, whose 
calligraphy is still esteemed and even used as a model by 
students. His enthusiasm for knowledge was immense. It 
is recorded of him that, in the intervals between his official 
appointments, he would sometimes shut himself up with 
his books for more than a year at a time. So great was his 
devotion to Huang Po that he presented him with his own 
son as a novice, and it is known that this young man lived 
to become a Zen Master of standing. 

The Translation 

The present translation of Part I differs slightly from one 
I made several years ago, which was published under the 
title of The Huang Po Doctrine of Universal Mind\ while 
Part 11 is now published for the first time. Words tacitly 
implied in the original or added for the sake of good 
English have not been confined in brackets, so to some 
extent the translation is interpretive, but the sense is 
strictly that of the original, unless errors have occurred in 
my understanding of it. These probable errors, for which 
I now apologize, are due to the extreme terseness of the 
Chinese text and to the multiplicity of meanings attached 
to certain Chinese characters. Thus ‘hsiff may mean 
'Mind* or ‘mind’ or ‘thought’, of which the last is, accord- 
ing to Huang Po, a major obstacle in the way of our 
understanding the first. Similarly, ‘fa’ (dharma) may mean 


translator’s introduction 

the Doctrine^ a single aspect of the Doctrine, a principle, 
a law, method, idea, thing, or entity of any sort whatever. 
Moreover, the text is highly colloquial in places and, here 
and there, employs a sort of T‘ang Dynasty slang, the 
meaning of which has to be guessed from the context. When 
I have referred obscure passages to Chinese scholars, I have 
been given such a wide variety of different explanations 
that I have not known which to choose. In spite of all this, 
I believe that my rendering is on the whole faithful and 
that, at least, I have nowhere departed from the spirit of 
the teaching. The division into numbered paragraphs is 
my own. 

I am indebted to Mr. Ting Fu Pao’s Chinese Buddhist 
Dictionary^ to the Dictionary of Buddhist Terms compiled by 
Soothill and Hodous, to several Chinese monks and lay- 
men, and most of all to my wife who helped greatly in the 
preparation of the typescript. It is a Chinese custom to 
offer the merit accruing from the publication of a Budd- 
hist work to somebody else, and this I gladly offer to my 
wife, Meifang. I fear, however, that Huang Po would have 
laughed in my face and perhaps delivered one of his famous 
blows if I had spoken to him of ‘gaining merit’ in this way! 

John Blofeld (Chu Ch‘an) 

The Bamboo Studio^ Bangkok 
October^ jg§'/. 



The great Zen Master Hsi Yiin lived below the Vulture 
Peak on Mount Huang Po/ in the district of Kao An 
which forms part of the prefecture of Hung Chou.^ He was 
third in the direct line of descent from Hui N6ng,® the 
Sixth Patriarch, and the pupil of a fellow-disciple of Hui 
Hai. Holding in esteem only the intuitive method of the 
Highest Vehicle, which cannot be communicated in words, 
he taught nothing but the doctrine of the One Mind; 
holding that there is nothing else to teach, in that both 
mind and substance are void and that the chain of causa- 
tion is motionless. Mind is like the sun journeying through 
the sky and emitting glorious light uncontaminated by the 
finest particle of dust. To those who have realized the nature 
of Reality, there is nothing old or new, and conceptions of 
shallowness and depth are meaningless. Those who speak 
of it do not attempt to explain it, establish no sects and 
open no doors or windows. That which is before you is it. 
Begin to reason about it and you will at once fall into error. 
Only when you have understood this will you perceive 
your oneness with the original Buddha-nature. Therefore 
his words were simple, his reasoning direct, his way of 
life exalted and his habits unlike the habits of other men. 

1 From which he tak<» his posthumous name. 

* In the modem province of Kiangsi, 

® Wei Lang. 


p‘ei hsiu’s preface 

Disciples hastened to him from all quarters, looking up to 
him as to a lofty mountain, and through their contact with 
him awoke to Reality. Of the crowds which flocked to see 
him, there were always more than a thousand with him at 
a time. 

In the second year of Hui Ch‘ang (a.d. 843), when I 
was in charge of the district of Chung Lin, I welcomed him 
on his coming to that city from the mountain where he 
resided. We stayed together in the Lung Hsing Monastery 
where, day and night, I questioned him about the Way. 
Moreover, in the second year of T‘ai Chung (a.d. 849), 
while governing the district of Wan Ling, I again had 
occasion to welcome him ceremoniously to the place where 
I was stationed. This time we stayed quietly at the K‘ai 
Yuan Monastery, where also I studied under him day and 
night.. After leaving him, I recorded what I had learnt 
and, though able to set down only about a fifth of it, I 
esteem it as a direct transmission of the Doctrine. At first 
I was diffident about publishing what I had written; but 
now, fearing that these vital and penetrating teachings will 
be lost to future generations, I have done so. Moreover, I 
gave the manuscript to the monks T‘ai Chou and Fa Chien, 
requesting them to return to the Kuang T'ang Monastery 
on the old mountain^ and to ask the elder monks there how 
far it agrees with what they themselves used frequently to 
hear in the past. 

Written on the eighth day of the tenth moon of the 
eleventh year of T‘ai Chung (a.p. 858) of the T^ang 

^ Mount Huang Po. 




A collection of sermons and dialogues recorded by P‘ei Hsiu while 
in the city of Chiin Chou 

I, The Master said to me: All the Buddhas and all sentient 
beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which 
nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, 
is unborn^ and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, 
and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong 
to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor 
can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither 
long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, 
measures, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which 
you see before you — ^begin to reason about it and you at 
once fall into error. It is like the boundless yoid which can- 
not be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the 
Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha 
and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached 
to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their 
very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to 
seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind. Even 

^ Unborn, not in the sense of eternity, for this allows contrast with its 
opposite; but imbom in the sense that it belongs to no categories ad- 
mitting of alteration or antithesis. 



though they do their utmost for a full aeon, they will not 
be able to attain to it. They do not know that, if they put 
a stop to conceptual thought and forget their anxiety, the 
Buddha will appear before them, for this Mind is the 
Buddha and the Buddha is all living beings. It is not the 
less for being manifested in ordinary beings, nor is it greater 
for being manifested in the Buddhas. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

As to performing the six paramitas^ and vast numbers of 
similar practices, or gaining merits as countless as the sands 
of the Ganges, since you are fundamentally complete in 
every respect, you should not try to supplement that per- 
fection by such meaningless practices. When there is 
occasion for them, perform them; and, when the occasion 
is passed, remain quiescent. If you are not absolutely con- 
vinced that the Mind is the Buddha, and if you are attached 
to forms, practices and meritorious performances, your way 
of thinking is false and quite incompatible with the Way. 
The Mind is the Buddha, nor are there any other Buddhas 
or any other mind. It is bright and spotless as the void, 
having no form or appearance whatever. To make use of 
your minds to think conceptually is to leave the substance 
and attach yourselves to form. The Evcr-Existent Buddha 
is not a Buddha of form or attachment. To practise the six 
paramitas and a myriad similar practices with the inten- 
tion of becoming a Buddha thereby is to advance by stages, 
but the Ever-Existent Buddha is not a Buddha of stages. 
Only awake to the One Mind, and there is nothing what- 
soever to be attained. This is the real Buddha. The 

^ Charity, morality, patience under affliction, zealous application, 
right control of mind and the application of the highest wisdom. 



Buddha and all sentient beings are the One Mind and 
nothing else. 

♦ 4: >it 

3. Mind is like the void in which there is no confusion or 
evil, as when the sun wheels through it shining upon the 
four corners of the world. For, when the sun rises and 
illuminates the whole earth, the void gains not in brilliance; 
and, when the sun sets, the void does not darken. The 
phenomena of light and dark alternate with each other, 
but the nature of the void remains unchanged. So it is with 
the Mind of the Buddha and of sentient beings. If you 
look upon the Buddha as presenting a pure, bright or En- 
lightened appearance, or upon sentient beings as present- 
ing a foul, dark or mortal-seeming appearance, these con- 
ceptions resulting from attachment to form will keep you 
from supreme knowledge, even after the passing of as many 
aeons as there are sands in the Ganges. There is only the 
One Mind and not a particle of anything else on which to 
lay hold, for this Mind is the Buddha. If you students of 
the Way do not awake to this Mind substance, you will 
overlay Mind with conceptual thought, you will seek the 
Buddha outside yourselves, and you will remain attached 
to forms, pious practices and so on, all of which are harmful 
and not at all the way to supreme knowledge. 


4. Making offerings to all the Buddhas of the universe is 
not equal to making offerings to one follower of the Way 
who has eliminated conceptual thought. Why? Because 
such a one forms no concepts whatever. The substance of 
the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is 



motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is with- 
out bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor 
objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot 
vanish. Those who hasten towards it dare not enter, fearing 
to hurtle down through the void with nothing to cling to 
or to stay their fall. So they look to the brink and retreat. 
This refers to all those who seek such a goal through cog- 
nition. Thus, those who seek the goal through cognition 
are like the fur {many)^ while those who obtain intuitive 
knowledge of the Way are like the horns {few)}- 

♦ ♦ * 

5. Manju^ri represents fundamental law and Samanta- 
bhadra, activity. By the former is meant the law of the real 
and unbounded void, and by the latter the inexhaustible 
activities beyond the sphere of form. Avalokite^vara re- 
presents boundless compassion; Mahasthama, great wis- 
dom, and Vimalakirti, spotless name.^ Spotless refers to the 
real nature of things, while name means form; yet form is 
really one with real nature, hence the combined term ‘spot- 
less name’.^ All the qualities typified by the great Bodhi- 
sattvas are inherent in men and are not to be separated 
from the One Mind. Awake to it, and it is there. You 
students of the Way who do not awake to this in your own 

^ Compare this with Professor Suzuki’s: ‘That which is known as 
mind in discursive reasoning is no-mind, though without this Mind 
cannot be reached.’ 

* This abstract notion of the Bodhisattvas, regarded by some sects 
as individual spiritual entities, is shared by some Buddhists outside the 
Zen Sect. 

* Zen teaches that, though the phenomenal world based on sensory 
experience has only relative existence, it is wrong to regard it as some- 
thing separate from the One Mind. It is the One Mind wrongly appre- 
hended. As the Hyidaya Sutra says: ‘Form is not different from void, 
void from form; form is void and void is form.’ 



minds, and who are attached to appearances or who seek 
for something objective outside your own minds, have all 
turned your backs on the Way. The sands of the Ganges! 
The Buddha said of these sands: Tf all the Buddhas and 
Bodhisattvas with Indra and all the gods walk across them, 
the sands do not rejoice; and, if oxen, sheep, reptiles and 
insects tread upon them, the sands are not angered. For 
jewels and perfumes they have no longing, and for the 
stinking filth of manure and urine they have no loathing.’ 


6. This Mind is no mind of conceptual thought and it is 
completely detached from form. So Buddhas and sentient 
beings do not differ at all. If you can only rid yourselves of 
conceptual thought, you will have accomplished everything. 
But if you students of the Way do not rid yourselves of 
conceptual thought in a flash, even though you strive for 
aeon after aeon, you will never accomplish it. Enmeshed 
in the meritorious practices of the Three Vehicles, you will 
be unable to attain Enlightenment. Nevertheless, the 
realization of the One Mind may come after a shorter or 
a longer period. There are those who, upon hearing this 
teaching, rid themselves of conceptual thought in a flash. 
There are others who do this after following through the 
Ten Beliefs, the Ten Stages, the Ten Activities and the Ten 
Bestowals of Merit. Yet others accomplish it after passing 
through the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva’s Progress.^ But 

^ These various categories of ten are all part of the doctrine as taught 
by certain other sects. Huang Po wishes to make it clear that, though 
these may be useful in preparing the ground, the mind must in any case 
take a sudden leap, and that having passed through these stages in 
nowise constitutes partial Enlightenment. 




whether they transcend conceptual thought by a longer or 
a shorter way, the result is a state of being: there is no 
pious practising and no action of realizing. That there is 
nothing which can be attained is not idle talk; it is the truth. 
Moreover, whether you accomplish your aim in a single 
flash of thought or after going through the Ten Stages of 
a Bodhisattva’s Progress, the achievement will be the same; 
for this state of being admits of no degrees, so the latter 
method merely entails aeons of unnecessary sujffering and 

He ♦ ♦ 

7. The building up of good and evil both involve attach- 
ment to form.^ Those who, being attached to form, do evil 
have to undergo various incarnations unnecessarily; while 
those who, being attached to form, do good, subject them- 
selves to toil and privation equally to no purpose. In either 
case it is better to achieve sudden self-realization and to 
grasp the fundamental Dharma. This Dharma is Mind, 
beyond which there is no Dharma; and this Mind is the 
Dharma, beyond which there is no mind. Mind in itself is 
not mind, yet neither is it no-mind. To say that Mind is 
no-mind implies something existent.^ Let there be a silent 
understanding and no more. Away with all thinking and 
explaining. Then we may say that the Way of Words has 

^ Merit, however excellent in itself, has nothing to do with En- 

* According to Zen, virtuous actions should be performed by adepts, 
but not with a view to accumulating merit and not as a means to 
Enlightenment. The door should remain perfectly unattached to the 
actions and to their results. 

* In other words, Mind is an arbitary term for something that cannot 
properly be expressed in words. 



been cut off and movements of the mind eliminated. This 
Mind is the pure Buddha-Source inherent in all men. All 
wriggling beings possessed of sentient life and all the 
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are of this one substance and 
do not differ. Differences arise from wrong-thinking only 
and lead to the creation of all kinds of karma.^ 



8. Our original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid 
of any atom of objectivity. It is void, omnipresent, silent, 
pure; it is glorious and mysterious peaceful joy — and that 
is all. Enter deeply into it by awaking to it yourself. That 
which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. 
There is naught beside. Even if you go through all the 
stages of a Bodhisattva’s progress towards Buddhahood, one 
by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full 
realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature 
which has been with you all the time; and by all the fore- 
going stages you will have added to it nothing at all.^ You 
will come to look upon those aeons of work and achieve- 
ment as no better than unreal actions performed in a dream. 
That is why the Tathagata said: T truly attained nothing 
from complete, unexcelled Enlightenment. Had there been 
anything attained, Dipamkara Buddha would not have 

^ Karma, even good karma, leads to rebirth and prolongs the wander- 
ings of the supposedly individual entity; for when good karma has 
worked itself out in consequent enjoyment, the ‘individual* is as far from 
understanding the One Mind as ever. 

* Enlightenment must come in a flash, whether you have passed 
through the preliminary stages or not, so the latter can well be dis- 
pensed with, except that, for reasons unconnected with Enlightenment, 
Zen requires of adepts an attitude of kindness and helpfulness towards 
all living creatures. 



made the prophecy concerning me.'^ He also said: ‘This 
Dharma is absolutely without distinctions, neither high nor 
low, and its name is Bodhi.’ It is pure Mind, which is the 
source of everything and which, whether appearing as 
sentient beings or as Buddhas, as the rivers and mountains 
of the world which has form, as that which is formless, or 
as penetrating the whole universe, is absolutely without 
distinctions, there being no such entities as selfness and 

* 41 

9, This pure Mind, the source of everything, shines forever 
and on all with the brilliance of its own perfection. But the 
people of the world do not awake to it, regarding only that 
which sees, hears, feels and knows as mind. Blinded by their 
own sight, hearing, feeling and knowing, they do not 
perceive the spiritual brilliance of the source-substance. If 
they would only eliminate all conceptual thought in a flash, 
that source-substance would manifest itself like the sun 
ascending through the void and illuminating the whole 
universe without hindrance or bounds. Therefore, if you 
students of the Way seek to progress through seeing, hear- 
ing, feeling and knowing, when you are deprived of your 
perceptions, your way to Mind will be cut off and you will 
find nowhere to enter. Only realize that, though real Mind 

^ This quotation refers to the Diamond Sutra» as do many of the others 
cither directly or indirectly. Dipaiyikara Buddha, during a former life 
of Gautama Buddha, prophesied that he would one day attain to 
Buddhahood. Huang Po means that the prophecy would not have been 
made if Dipaipkara Buddha had supposed that Gautama Buddha^s 
Enlightenment would lead to the actual attainment of something he had 
not already been from the very first; for then Enlightenment would not 
have led to Buddhahood, which implies a voidness of ail distinctions 
such a? attamer, attained, non-attainer and non-attained. 



is expressed in these perceptions, it neither forms part of 
them nor is separate from them. You should not start 
REASONING from these perceptions, nor allow them to give 
rise to conceptual thought; yet nor should you seek the 
One Mind apart from them or abandon them in your pur- 
suit of the Dharma. Do not keep them nor abandon them 
nor dwell in them nor cleave to them. Above, below and 
around you, all is spontaneously existing, for there is 
nowhere which is outside the Buddha-Mind, 

* ♦ * 

10. When the people of the world hear it said that the 
Buddhas transmit the Doctrine of the Mind, they suppose 
that there is something to be attained or realized apart 
from Mind, and thereupon they use Mind to seek the 
Dharma, not knowing that Mind and the object of their 
search are one. Mind cannot be used to seek something 
from Mind; for then, after the passing of millions of aeons, 
the day of success will still not have dawned. Such a method 
is not to be compared with suddenly eliminating conceptual 
thought, which is the fundamental Dharma. Suppose a 
warrior, forgetting that he was already wearing his pearl 
on his forehead, were to seek for it elsewhere, he could 
travel the whole world without finding it. But if someone 
who knew what was wrong were to point it out to him, the 
warrior would immediately realize that the pearl had been 
there all the time. So, if you students of the Way are mis- 
taken about your own real Mind, not recognizing that it is 
the Buddha, you will consequently look for him elsewhere, 
indulging in various achievements and practices and ex- 
pecting to attain realization by such graduated practices. 



But, even after aeons of diligent searching, you will not be 
able to attain to the Way. These methods cannot be com- 
pared to the sudden elimination of conceptual thought, in 
the certain knowledge that there is nothing at all which 
has absolute existence, nothing on which to lay hold, 
nothing on which to rely, nothing in which to abide, 
nothing subjective or objective. It is by preventing the rise 
of conceptual thought that you will realize Bodhi; and, 
when you do, you will just be realizing the Buddha who 
has always existed in your own Mind! Aeons of striving 
will prove to be so much wasted effort; just as, when the 
warrior found his pearl, he merely discovered what had 
been hanging on his forehead all the time; and just as his 
finding of it had nothing to do with his efforts to discover 
it elsewhere. Therefore the Buddha said: T truly attained 
nothing from complete, unexcelled Enlightenment.’ It was 
for fear that people would not believe this that he drew 
upon what is seen with the five sorts of vision and spoken 
with the five kinds of speech. So this quotation is by no 
means empty talk, but expresses the highest truth. 

* * ♦ 

II. Students of the Way should be sure that the four 
elements composing the body do not constitute the ‘self’, 
that the ‘self’ is not an entity; and that it can be deduced 
from this that the body is neither ‘self’ nor entity. More- 
over, the five aggregates composing the mind {in the common 
sense) do not constitute either a ‘self’ or an entity ; hence, it 
can be deduced that the {so-called individual) mind is neither 
‘self’ nor entity. The six sense organs {including the brain) 
which, together with their six types of perception and the 



six kinds of objects of perception, constitute the sensory 
world, must be understood in the same way. Those eighteen 
aspects of sense are separately and together void. There is 
only Mind-Source, limitless in extent and of absolute 

* Ht ^ 

12 . Thus, there is sensual eating and wise eating. When the 
body composed of the four elements suffers the pangs of 
hunger and accordingly you provide it with food, but 
without greed, that is called wise eating. On the other 
hand, if you gluttonously delight in purity and flavour, 
you are permitting the distinctions which arise from wrong 
thinking. Merely seeking to gratify the organ of taste with- 
out realizing when you have taken enough is called sensual 




13. Sravakas reach Enlightenment by hearing the Dharma, 
so they are called Sravakas.^ Sravakas do not comprehend 
their own mind, but allow concepts to arise from listening 
to the doctrine. Whether they hear of the existence of 
Bodhi and Nirvana through supernormal powers or good 
fortune or preaching, they will attain to Buddhahood only 

1 This is a simple example of the wrong use of the six senses. Of course 
we must use them for dealing with the world as it affects our daily lives, 
but our employment of them should be limited to what is strictly 
necessary for our wellbeing. 

* Huang Po sometimes stretches this term to apply to Hinayanists in 
general. The literal meaning of its Chinese equivalent is ‘those who hear’ 
and Huang Po implies that Hinayanists pay too much attention to the 
literal meaning of the Scriptures, instead of seeking intuitive knowledge 
through eliminating conceptual thought. Those able to apply the latter 
method have no need of scriptures. 



after three aeons of infinitely long duration. All these 
belong to the way of the Sravakas, so they are called 
Sravaka-Buddhas. But to awaken suddenly to the fact that 
your own Mind is the Buddha, that there is nothing to be 
attained or a single action to be performed — ^this is the 
Supreme Way; this is really to be as a Buddha. It is only 
to be feared that you students of the Way, by the coming 
into existence of a single thought, may raise a barrier 
between yourselves and the Way. From thought-instant to 
thought-instant, no form; from thought-instant to thought- 
instant, no ACTIVITY — that is to be a Buddha! If you 
students of the Way wish to become Buddhas, you need 
study no doctrines whatever, but learn only how to avoid 
seeking for and attaching yourselves to anything. Where 
nothing is sought this implies Mind unborn; where no 
attachment exists, this implies Mind not destroyed; and 
that which is neither born nor destroyed is the Buddha. 
The eighty-four thousand methods for countering the 
eighty-four thousand forms of delusion are merely figures 
of speech for drawing people towards the Gate. In fact, 
none of them have real existence. Relinquishment of every- 
thing is the Dharma, and he who understands this is a 
Buddha, but the relinquishment of all delusions leaves no 
Dharma on which to lay hold.^ 

♦ * ♦ 

14. If you students of the Way desire knowledge of this 
great mystery, only avoid attachment to any single thing 

^ Buddhists of most sects are taught to relinquish sensual attachments 
and to cling singlcmindedly to the Dharma. Huang Po goes further in 
showing that any form of attachment, even attachment to the Dharma, 
leads us away from the truth. 



beyond Mind. To say that the real Dharmakaya of the 
Buddha^ resembles the Void is another way of saying that 
the Dharmakaya is the Void and that the Void is the 
Dharmakaya. People often claim that the Dharmakaya is 
in the Void and that the Void contains the Dharmakaya, 
not realizing that they are one and the same. But if you 
define the Void as something existing, then it is not the 
Dharmakaya; and if you define the Dharmakaya as some- 
thing existing, then it is not the Void. Only refrain from 
any objective conception of the Void; then it is the Dharma- 
kaya: and, if only you refrain from any objective concep- 
tion of the Dharmakaya, why, then it is the Void. These 
two do not differ from each other, nor is there any differ- 
ence between sentient beings and Buddhas, or between 
samsara and Nirvana, or between delusion and Bodhi. 
When all such forms are abandoned, there is the Buddha. 
Ordinary people look to their surroundings, while followers 
of the Way look to Mind, but the true Dharma is to forget 
them both. The former is easy enough, the latter very 
difficult. Men are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to 
fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They 
do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm 
of the real Dharma. This spiritually enlightening nature is 
without beginning, as ancient as the Void, subject neither 
to birth nor to destruction, neither existing nor not existing, 
neither impure nor pure, neither clamorous nor silent, 
neither old nor young, occupying no space, having neither 
inside nor outside, size nor form, colour nor sound. It can- 
not be looked for or sought, comprehended by wisdom or 
knowledge, explained in words, contacted materially or 
reached by meritorious achievement. All the Buddhas and 
1 The highest of the three Bodies, synonymous with the Absolute. 



Bodhisattvas, together with all wriggling things possessed 
of life, share in this great Nirvanic nature. This nature is 
Mind; Mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the Dharma. 
Any thought apart from this truth is entirely a wrong 
thought. You cannot use Mind to seek Mind, the Buddha 
to seek the Buddha, or the Dharma to seek the Dharma. 
So you students of the Way should immediately refrain from 
conceptual thought. Let a tacit understanding be all! Any 
mental process must lead to error. There is just a transmis- 
sion of Mind with Mind. This is the proper view to hold. 
Be careful not to look outwards to material surroundings. 
To mistake material surroundings for Mind is to mistake 
a thief for your son.^ 

♦ * 

15. It is only in contradistinction to greed, anger and 
ignorance that abstinence, calm and wisdom exist. With- 
out illusion, how could there be Enlightenment? Therefore 
Bodhidharma said: ‘The Buddha enunciated all Dharmas 
in order to eliminate every vestige of conceptual thinking. 
If I refrained entirely from conceptual thought, what would 
be the use of all the Dharmas?’ Attach yourselves to nothing 
beyond the pure Buddha-Nature which is the original 
source of all things. Suppose you were to adorn the Void 
with countless jewels, how could they remain in position? 
The Buddha-Nature is like the Void; though you were to 
adorn it with inestimable merit and wisdom, how could 

^ There is a story of a man who mistook a thief for his long-lost son 
and, giving him a warm welcome, enabled the latter to sneak away 
with most of his possessions. Those who place reliance on material things 
are in danger of losing that most valuable of all possessions — ^the key to 
the riddle of life which unlocks Nirv5pa*s gate, 



they remain there?^ They would only serve to conceal its 
original Nature and to render it invisible. 

That which is called the Doctrine of Mental Origins 
{followed by certain other sects) postulates that all things are 
built up in Mind and that they manifest themselves upon 
contact with external environment, ceasing to be manifest 
when that environment is not present. But it is wrong to 
conceive of an environment separate from the pure, un- 
varying nature of all things.^ 

That which is called the Mirror of Concentration and 
Wisdom {another reference to non-Z^n Mahdydna doctrine) re- 
quires the use of sight, hearing, feeling and cognition, which 
lead to successive states of calm and agitation. But these 
involve conceptions based on environmental objects; they 
are temporary expedients appertaining to one of the 
lower categories of ‘roots of goodness’.® And this category 
of ‘roots of goodness’ merely enables people to understand 
what is said to them. If you wish to experience Enlighten- 
ment yourselves, you must not indulge in such conceptions. 
They are all environmental Dharmas concerning things 
which are and things which are not, based on existence and 
non-existence. If only you will avoid concepts of existence 
and non-existence in regard to absolutely everything, you 
will then perceive the Dharma. 

♦ iK )|c 

^ Other Buddhist sects attach great importance to the acquisition of 
merit and wisdom, but this implies a dualistic conception of reality 
which Zen considers an insuperable obstacle to realization of the One 

• This constitutes a warning against another type of dualism. 

• Roots of goodness are believed by some Mahayanaists to be ‘En- 
lightenment-potentials* of varying degrees of strength with which 
individuals are reborn in accordance with the varying merits gained 
in former lives. 



1 6. On the first day of the ninth moon, the Master said to 
me: From the time when the Great Master Bodhidharma 
arrived in China, he spoke only of the One Mind and 
transmitted only the one Dharma. He used the Buddha to 
transmit the Buddha, never speaking of any other Buddha. 
He used the Dharma to transmit the Dharma, never speak- 
ing of any other Dharma. That Dharma was the wordless 
Dharma, and that Buddha was the intangible Buddha, 
since they were in fact that Pure Mind which is the source 
of all things. This is the only truth; all else is false. Prajfia 
is wisdom; wisdom is the formless original Mind-Source. 
Ordinary people do not seek the Way, but merely indulge 
their six senses which lead them back into the six realms of 
existence. A student of the Way, by allowing himself a 
single saihsaric thought, falls among devils. If he permits 
himself a single thought leading to differential perception, 
he falls into heresy. To hold that there is something born 
and to try to eliminate it, that is to fall among the Sravakas.^ 
To hold that things are not born but capable of destruction 
is to fall among the Pratyekas.^ Nothing is born, nothing 
is destroyed. Away with your dualism, your likes and dis- 
likes.* Every single thing is just the One Mind. When you 
have perceived this, you will have mounted the Chariot of 
the Buddhas. 

17. Ordinary people all indulge in conceptual thought 

^ Huang^ Po, according to his usual custom, is using the word SrSvaka 
to mean Hinayanist, Hlnayanists are dualists in that they seek to 
overcome their samsaric life in order to enter Nirvana; while Zen 
perceives that Sarhsara is no other than Nirvana. 

* Huang Po customarily uses or misuses this word to mean the 
MSdhyamikists or followers of the Middle Vehicle. 



based on environmental phenomena, hence they feel desire 
and hatred. To eliminate environmental phenomena, just 
put an end to your conceptual thinking. When this ceases, 
environmental phenomena are void; and when these are 
void, thought ceases. But if you try to eliminate environ- 
ment without first putting a stop to conceptual thought, 
you will not succeed, but merely increase its power to dis- 
turb you. Thus all things are naught but Mind — intangible 
Mind; so what can you hope to attain? Those who are 
students of Prajna^ hold that there is nothing tangible 
whatever, so they cease thinking of the Three Vehicles.^ 
There is only the one reality, neither to be realized nor 
attained. To say T am able to realize something’ or T am 
able to attain something’ is to place yourself among the 
arrogant. The men who flapped their garments and left 
the meeting as mentioned in the Lotus Sutra were just such 
people.^ Therefore the Buddha said: T truly obtained 
nothing from Enlightenment.’ There is just a mysterious 
tacit understanding and no more. 

* ♦ ♦ 

1 8. If an ordinary man, when he is about to die, could only 
see the five elements of consciousness as void; the four 
physical elements as not constituting an T’; the real Mind 
as formless and neither coming nor going; his nature as 
something neither commencing at his birth nor perishing 
at his death, but as whole and motionless in its very depths; 
his Mind and environmental objects as one — ^if he could 
really accomplish this, he would receive Enlightenment in 

^ Here used to mean Wisdom in the sense of Zen. 

» I.e. the Tliree Great Schools teaching gradual Enlightenment. 

5 These people thought they had imderstood and were smugly self- 



a flash. He would no longer be entangled by the Triple 
World; he would be a World-Transcendor. He would be 
without even the faintest tendency towards rebirth. If he 
should behold the glorious sight of all the Buddhas coming 
to welcome him, surrounded by every kind of gorgeous 
manifestation, he would feel no desire to approach them. 
If he should behold all sorts of horrific forms surrounding 
him, he would experience no terror. He would just be him- 
self, oblivious of conceptual thought and one with the 
Absolute. He would have attained the state of uncon- 
ditioned being. This, then, is the fundamental principle.^ 




19. On the eighth day of the tenth moon, the Master said 
to me: That which is called the City of Illusion contains the 
Two Vehicles, the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva’s Progress, 
and the two forms of Full Enlightenment. ^ All of them are 
powerful teachings for arousing people’s interest, but they 
still belong to the City of Illusion.® That which is called the 
Place of Precious Things is the real Mind, the original 
Buddha-Essence, the treasure of our own real Nature. 
These jewels cannot be measured or accumulated. Yet since 
there are neither Buddha nor sentient beings, neither 
subject nor object, where can there be a City of Precious 

^ This paragraph is, perhaps, one of the finest expositions of Zen 
teaching, for it encompasses in a few words almost the entire scope of 
that vast and penetrating wisdom. 

* Including the form which leads to the awakening of others. 

* The City of Illusion is a term taken from the Lotus Sutra and here 
implies temporary or incomplete Nirvana. From the point of view of 
Zen, all the teachings of the many sects based on a belief in gradual 
Enlightenment arc l3:ely to lead their followers to the City of Illusion, 
because all of them apparently subscribe to some form or other of 


Things? If you ask, 'Well, so much for the City of Illusion, 
but where is the Place of Precious Things?’, it is a place to 
which no directions can be given. For, if it could be pointed 
out, it would be a place existing in space; hence, it could 
not be the real Place of Precious Things. All we can say is 
that it is close by. It cannot be exactly described, but when 
you have a tacit understanding of its substance, it is there. 

* ♦ ♦ 

20. Icchantikas are those with beliefs which are incomplete. 
All beings within the six realms of existence, including 
those who follow Mahayana and Hlnayana, if they do not 
believe in their potential Buddhahood, are accordingly 
called Icchantikas with cut-ofF roots of goodness. Bod- 
hisattvas^ who believe deeply in the Buddha-Dharma, 
without accepting the division into Mahayana and Hlna- 
yana, but who do not realize the one Nature of Buddhas 
and sentient beings, are accordingly called Icchantikas 
with roots of goodness. Those who are Enlightened largely 
through hearing the spoken doctrine are termed Sravakas 
{hearers). Those Enlightened through perception of the law 
of karma are called Pratyeka-Buddhas.^ Those who become 
Buddhas, but not from Enlightenment occurring in their 
own minds, are called Hearer-Buddhas. Most students of 
the Way are Enlightened through the Dharma which is 
taught in words and not through the Dharma of Mind. 
Even after successive aeons of effort, they will not become 
attuned to the original Buddha-Essence. For those who 

^ Here meaning Buddhists. 

* Commonly meaning those Buddhas who do not interest themselves 
in the Enlightenment of others. 



are not Enlightened from within their own Mind, but from 
hearing the Dharma which is taught in words, make light 
of Mind and attach importance to doctrine, so they advance 
only step by step, neglecting their original Mind. Thus, if 
only you have a tacit understanding of Mind, you will not 
need to search for any Dharma, for then Mind is the 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

121. People are often hindered by environmental pheno- 
mena from perceiving Mind, and by individual events from 
perceiving underlying principles; so they often try to escape 
from environmental phenomena in order to still their 
minds, or to obscure events in order to retain their grasp 
of principles. They do not realize that this is merely to 
obscure phenomena with Mind, events with principles. 
Just let your minds become void and environmental 
phenomena will void themselves; let principles cease to 
stir and events will cease stirring of themselves.^ Do not 
employ Mind in this perverted way. 

Many people are afraid to empty their minds lest they 
may plunge into the Void. They do not know that their 
own Mind is the void. The ignorant eschew phenomena but 
not thought; the wise eschew thought but not phenomena.* 

♦ « ♦ 

' Most of this paragraph is intended to make it clear that, though 
Buddhism of the gradual school does produce results, they take long to 
attain and arc at least incomplete compared with results obtained 
through Zen. 

® To FORCE the mind to blot out phenomena shows ignorance of the 
identity of the one with the other. 

* This profound teaching is aimed partly at those Buddhists who 
practise a form of meditation which aims at temporarily blotting out the 
material world. 



22. The Bodhisattva’s mind is like the void, for he relin- 
quishes everything and does not even desire to accumulate 
merits. There are three kinds of relinquishment. When 
everything inside and outside, bodily and mental, has been 
relinquished; when, as in the Void, no attachments are 
left; when all action is dictated purely by place and cir- 
cumstance; when subjectivity and objectivity are forgotten 
— that is the highest form of relinquishment. When, on the 
one hand, the Way is followed by the performance of 
virtuous acts; while, on the other, relinquishment of merit 
takes place and no hope of reward is entertained — that is 
the medium form of relinquishment. When all sorts of 
virtuous actions are performed in the hope of reward by 
those who, nevertheless, know of the Void by hearing the 
Dharma and who are therefore unattached — that is the 
lowest form of relinquishment. The first is like a blazing 
torch held to the front which makes it impossible to mistake 
the path; the second is like a blazing torch held to one side, 
so that it is sometimes light and sometimes dark; the third 
is like a blazing torch held behind, so that pitfalls in front 
are not seen.^ 

>it ♦ ♦ 

23. Thus, the mind of the Bodhisattva is like the Void and 
everything is relinquished by it. When thoughts of the past 
cannot be taken hold of, that is relinquishment of the past. 
When thoughts of the present cannot be taken hold of, 
that is relinquishment of the present. When thoughts of the 
future cannot be taken hold of, that is relinquishment of 

^ These three types of relinquishment probably refer obliquely to 
Zen, MahaySna and Hinayana respectively. 




the future. This is called utter relinquishment of Triple 
Time. Since the Tathagata entrusted Kasyapa with the 
Dharma until now, Mind has been transmitted with Mind, 
and these Minds have been identical, A transmission of 
Void cannot be made through words. A transmission in 
concrete terms cannot be the Dharma. Thus Mind is trans- 
mitted with Mind and these Minds do not diiffer. Trans- 
mitting and receiving transmission are both a most difficult 
kind of mysterious understanding, so that few indeed have 
been able to receive it. In fact, however, Mind is not Mind 
and transmission is not really transmission.^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

‘24. A Buddha has three bodies. By the Dharmakaya is 
meant the Dharma of the omnipresent voidness of the real 
self-existent Nature of everything. By the Sambhogakaya 
is meant the Dharma of the underlying universal purity of 
things. By the Nirmanakaya is meant the Dharmas of the 
six practices leading to Nirvana and all other such devices. 
The Dharma of the Dharmakaya cannot be sought through 
speech or hearing or the written word. There is nothing 
which can be said or made evident. There is just the omni- 
present voidness of the real self-existent Nature of every- 
thing, and no more. Therefore, saying that there is no 
Dharma to be explained in words is called preaching the 
Dharma. The Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya both 
respond with appearances suited to particular circum- 
stances. Spoken Dharmas which respond to events through 
the senses and in all sorts of guises are none of them the real 
Dharma. So it is said that the Sambhogakaya or the 
^ This is a reminder that all terms used in Zen arc mere makeshifts. 



Nirmanakaya is not a real Buddha or preacher of the 

He ate t 

25. The term unity refers to a homogeneous spiritual 
brilliance which separates into six harmoniously blended 
‘elements’. The homogeneous spiritual brilliance is the One 
Mind, while the six harmoniously blended ‘elements’ are 
the six sense organs. These six sense organs become sever- 
ally united with objects that defile them — ^the eyes with 
form, the ear with sound, the nose with smell, the tongue 
with taste, the body with touch, and the thinking mind 
with entities. Between these organs and their objects arise 
the six sensory perceptions, making eighteen sense-realms 
in all. If you understand that these eighteen realms have no 
objective existence, you will bind the six harmoniously 
blended ‘elements’ into a single spiritual brilliance — a single 
spiritual brilliance which is the One Mind. All students of 
the Way know this, but cannot avoid forming concepts of 
‘a single spiritual brilliance’ and ‘the six harmoniously 
blended elements’. Accordingly they are chained to entities 
and fail to achieve a tacit understanding of original Mind.^ 

He ik 9i( 

^ As usual, Huang Po is using familiar Sanskrit terms in a way peculiar 
to himself. Usually, the Dhannakaya means the highest aspect of a 
Buddha, i.e. as one with the Absolute j the Sambhogakaya is the glori- 
fied Body of a Buddha in his supramundane existence; and the Nir- 
ma^iakaya may be any of the various transformations in which a Buddha 
appears in the world. In Zen, the first is absolute truth in unimaginable 
and perfect form, the second is the highest concept of absolute truth of 
whidk unenlightened human beings are capable — an underlying purity 
and unity; the third represents the various methods by whim we hope 
to obtain perception of absolute truth. 

* This points to those people who are capable of understanding the 
doctrine intelligently but who have not yet entirely succeeded in 
throwing off the burden of concepts. 



i26. When the Tathagata manifested himself in this world, 
he wished to preach a single Vehicle of Truth. But people 
would not have believed him and, by scoffing at him, 
would have become immersed in the sea of sorrow [sarhsdra). 
On the other hand, if he had said nothing at all, that would 
have been selfishness, and he would not have been able to 
diffuse knowledge of the mysterious Way for the benefit of 
sentient beings. So he adopted the expedient of preaching 
that there are Three Vehicles. As, however, these Vehicles 
are relatively greater and lesser, unavoidably there are 
shallow teachings and profound teachings — none of them 
being the original Dharma. So it is said that there is only a 
One-Vehicle Way; if there were more, they could not be real. 
Besides there is absolutely no way of describing the Dharma 
of the One Mind. Therefore the Tathagata called Kasyapa 
to come and sit with him on the Seat of Proclaiming the 
Law, separately entrusting to him the Wordless Dharma of 
the One Mind. This branchless Dharma was to be separ- 
ately practised; and those who should be tacitly Enlightened 
would arrive at the state of Buddhahood.^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

27. Q: What is the Way and how must it be followed? 

A: What sort of thing do you suppose the Way to be, 
that you should wish to follow it? 

Q,: What instructions have the Masters everywhere given 
for dhyana-practice and the study of the Dharma? 

i.This passage demonstrates that Huang Po himself accepted the 
traditionsd origin of the Zen Sect; but, as I have pointed out in the in- 
troduction, the truth of this tradition does not afiect the validity of the 
teaching one way or the other, since Huang Po is surely speaiing from 
a direct experience of the One Mind. 



A: Words used to attract the dull of wit are not to be 
relied on. 

Q,: If those teachings were meant for the dull-witted, I 
have yet to hear what Dharma has been taught to those of 
really high capacity. 

A: If they are really men of high capacity, where could 
they find people to follow? If they seek from within them- 
selves, they will find nothing tangible; how much less can 
they find a Dharma worthy of their attention elsewhere! 
Do not look to what is called the Dharma by preachers, 
for what sort of Dharma could that be? 

Qj: If that is so, should we not seek for anything at all? 

A: By conceding this, you would save yourself a lot of 
mental effort. 

Q,: But in this way everything would be eliminated. 
There cannot just be nothing. 

A: Who called it nothing? Who was this fellow? But you 
wanted to seek for something. 

Q,: Since there is no need to seek, why do you also say 
that not everything is eliminated? 

A: Not to seek is to rest tranquil. Who told you to 
eliminate anything? Look at the void in front of your eyes. 
How can you produce it or eliminate it? 

Q,: If I could reach this Dharma, would it be like the void? 

A: Morning and night I have explained to you that the 
Void is both One and Manifold. I said this as a temporary 
expedient, but you are building up concepts from it. 

Q,: Do you mean that we should not form concepts as 
human beings normally do? 

A: I have not prevented you; but concepts are related 
to the senses; and, when feeling takes place, wisdom is shut 



Q: Then should we avoid any feeling in relation to the 

A : Where no feeling arises^ who can say that you are right? 

Q,: Why do you speak as though I was mistaken in all 
the questions I have asked Your Reverence? 

A: You are a man who doesn’t understand what is said 
to him. What is all this about being mistaken?^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

a8. Q: Up to now, you have refuted everything which has 
been said. You have done nothing to point out the true 
Dharma to us. 

A: In the true Dharma there is no confusion, but you 
produce confusion by such questions. What sort of ‘true 
Dharma’ can you go seeking for? 

Q: Since the confusion arises from my questions, what 
will Your Reverence’s answer be? 

A: Observe things as they are and don’t pay attention 
to other people. There are some people just like mad dogs 
barking at everything that moves, even barking when the 
wind stirs among the grass and leaves. ^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

29. Regarding this Zen Doctrine of ours, since it was first 
transmitted, it has never taught that men should seek 
for learning or form concepts. ‘Studying the Way’ is just a 
figure of speech. It is a method of arousing people’s interest 

^ Huang Po is obviously trying to help his questioner break away from 
the habit of thinking in terms of concepts and logical categories. To do 
this, he is obliged to make his questioner seem wrong, whatever he asks. 
We are reminded of the Buddha who, when questioned about such things 
as existence and non-existence, would reply: ‘Not this, not this/ 

* Such people mistake motions taking place within their minds for 
external independently moving objects. 



in the early stages of their development. In fact, the Way 
is not something which can be studied. Study leads to the 
retention of concepts and so the Way is entirely misunder- 
stood. Moreover, the Way is not something specially exist- 
ing; it is called the Mahayana Mind — Mind which is not 
to be found inside, outside or in the middle. Truly it is not 
located anywhere. The first step is to refrain from know- 
ledge-based concepts. This implies that if you were to 
follow the empirical method to the utmost limit, on reach- 
ing that limit you would still be unable to locate Mind. 
The way is spiritual Truth and was originally without name 
or title. It was only because people ignorantly sought for it 
empirically that the Buddhas appeared and taught them 
to eradicate this method of approach. Fearing that nobody 
would understand, they selected the name ‘Way’. You 
must not allow this name to lead you into forming a mental 
concept of a road. So it is said ‘When the fish is caught we 
pay no more attention to the trap.’ When body and mind 
achieve spontaneity, the Way is reached and Mind is 
understood. A ^ramana^ is so called because he has pene- 
trated to the original source of all things. The fruit of 
attaining the ^ramana stage is gained by putting an end to 
all anxiety; it does not come from book-learning.^ 

1 Commonly, the word for *monk^ 

* This passage has a strong Taoist flavour. The quotation is from 
Ghuang Tz{l, and the word Tao (Way) is used throughout. Zen and 
Taoism have so much in common that some have been led to believe 
that the former is a sort of Taoism in Buddhist disguise; but, as both 
sects employ much the same theory and practice, it may be that the 
similarity is because the teachers of both sects are speaking from the 
same transcendental experience of Reality. The present text is written 
in a highly condensed form and includes sermons delivered on many 
different occasions. It is not improbable that paragraphs 29 and 30 are 
a summary of a sermon delivered to an audience including one or more 
distinguished Taoist scholars, especially as the opening sentence gives 
the impression that the Master was addressing newcomers to Zen. 



30. If you now set about using your minds to seek Mind, 
listening to the teaching of others, and hoping to reach the 
goal through mere learning, when will you ever succeed? 
Some of the ancients had sharp minds; they no sooner 
heard the Doctrine proclaimed than they hastened to dis- 
card all learning. So they were called ‘Sages who, abandon- 
ing learning, have come to rest in spontaneity\^ In these 
days people only seek to stuff themselves with knowledge 
and deductions, seeking everywhere for book-knowledge 
and calling this ‘Dharma-practice’.^ They do not know 
that so much knowledge and deduction have just the con- 
trary effect of piling up obstacles. Merely acquiring a lot 
of knowledge makes you like a child who gives himself 
indigestion by gobbling too much curds. Those who study 
the Way according to the Three Vehicles arc all like this. 
All you can call them is people who suffer from indigestion. 
When so-called knowledge and deductions are not digested, 
they become poisons, for they belong only to the plane of 
samsara. In the Absolute, there is nothing at all of this kind. 
So it is said: Tn the armoury of my sovereign, there is no 
Sword of Thusness’. All the concepts you have formed in 
the past must be discarded and replaced by void. Where 
dualism ceases, there is the Void of the Womb of Tatha- 
gatas. The term ‘Womb of Tathagatas’ implies that not the 
smallest hairsbreadth of anything can exist there. That is 
why the Dharma Raja {the Buddha) ^ who broke down the 
notion of objective existence, manifested himself in this 

1 This passage contains another famous Taoist term — ^wu wex, some- 
times mistranslated *non-action*. In fact, it means no calculated action, 
nothing but spontaneous actions required to meet the demands of the 
passing moment. 

. * Literacy is by no means essential to the mastery of Zen. The Tibetan 
Book of the Great Liberation makes the same point. 



world, and that is why he said: ‘When I was with Dipam- 
kara Buddha there was not a particle of anything for me to 
attain/ This saying is intended just to void your sense-based 
knowledge and deductions. Only he who restrains every 
vestige of empiricism and ceases to rely upon anything can 
become a perfectly tranquil man. The canonical teachings 
of the Three Vehicles are just remedies for temporary needs. 
They were taught to meet such needs and so are of tempor- 
ary value and differ one from another. If only this could be 
understood, there would be no more doubts about it. Above 
all it is essential not to select some particular teaching 
suited to a certain occasion, and, being impressed by its 
forming part of the written canon, regard it as an immut- 
able concept. Why so? Because in truth there is no un- 
alterable Dharma which the Tathagata could have 
preached. People of our sect would never argue that there 
could be such a thing. We just know how to put all mental 
activity to rest and thus achieve tranquillity. We certainly 
do not begin by thinking things out and end up in 

♦ ♦ 

31. Q,* From all you have just said, Mind is the Buddha; 
but it is not clear as to what sort of mind is meant by this 
‘Mind which is the Buddha’. 

A: How many minds have you got? 

Q: But is the Buddha the ordinary mind or the En- 
lightened mind? 

A: Where on earth do you keep your ‘ordinary mind’ 
and your ‘Enlightened mind? 

Q: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is stated that 
there are both. Why does Your Reverence deny it? 



A: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is clearly 
explained that the ordinary and Enlightened minds are 
illusions. You donT understand. All this clinging to the 
idea of things existing is to mistake vacuity for the truth. 
How can such conceptions not be illusory? Being illusory, 
they hide Mind from you. If you would only rid yourselves 
of the concepts of ordinary and Enlightened, you would 
find that there is no other Buddha than the Buddha in your 
own Mind. When Bodhidharma came from the West, he 
just pointed out that the substance of which all men are 
composed is the Buddha. You people go on misunder- 
standing; you hold to concepts such as ^ordinary’ and ‘En- 
lightened’, directing your thoughts outwards where they 
gallop about like horses! All this amounts to beclouding 
your own minds! So I tell you Mind is the Buddha, As soon 
as thought or sensation arises, you fall into dualism. Be- 
ginningless time and the present moment are the same. 
There is no this and no that. To understand this truth is 
called compete and unexcelled Enlightenment. 

Q: Upon what Doctrine [pharma-principles) does Your 
Reverence base these words? 

A: Why seek a doctrine? As soon as you have a doctrine, 
you fall into dualistic thought. 

Q^: Just now you said that the beginningless past and the 
present are the same. What do you mean by that? 

A: It is just because of your seeking that you make a 
difference between them. If you were to stop seeking, how 
could there be any difference between them? 

Qj If they are not different, why did you employ separ- 
ate terms for them? 

A: If you hadn’t mentioned ordinary and Enlightened, 
who would have bothered to say such things? Just as those 



categories have no real existence, so Mind is not really 
‘mind\ And, as both Mind and those categories are really 
illusions, wherever can you hope to find anything? 

3K * 

32. Q: Illusion can hide from us our own mind, but 
up to now you have not taught us how to get rid of 

A: The arising and the elimination of illusion are both 
illusory. Illusion is not something rooted in Reality; it exists 
because of your dualistic thinking. If you will only cease 
to indulge in opposed concepts such as ‘ordinary^ and 
Enlightened’, illusion will cease of itself. And then if you 
still want to destroy it wherever it may be, you will find that 
there is not a hairsbreadth left of anything on which to 
lay hold. This is the meaning of: T will let go with both 
hands, for then I shall certainly discover the Buddha in my 

Q: If there is nothing on which to lay hold, how is the 
Dharma to be transmitted? 

A: It is a transmission of Mind with Mind. 

Q^: If Mind is used for transmission, why do you say 
that Mind too does not exist? 

A: Obtaining no Dharma whatever is called Mind 
transmission. The understanding of this Mind implies no 
Mind and no Dharma. 

Q,: If there is no Mind and no Dharma, what is meant 
by transmission? 

A: You hear people speak of Mind transmission and 
then you talk of something to be received. So Bodhidharma 



The nature of the Mind when understood. 

No human speech can compass or disclose. 
Enlightenment is naught to be attained. 

And he that gains it does not say he knows. 

If I were to make this clear to you, I doubt if you could 
stand up to it. 

>(e ♦ ♦ 

33* Q,: Surely the void stretching out in front of our 
eyes is objective. Then aren’t you pointing to something 
objective and seeing Mind in it? 

A: What sort of mind could I tell you to see in an objec- 
tive environment? Even if you could see it, it would only 
be Mind reflected in an objective sphere. You would be 
like a man looking at his face in a mirror; though you could 
distinguish your features in it clearly, you would still be 
looking at a mere reflection. What bearing has this on the 
affair that brought you to me? 

Q,: If we do not see by means of reflections, when shall 
we see at all? 

A: So long as you are concerned with ‘by means of’, you 
will always be depending on something false. When will 
you ever succeed in understanding? Instead of observing 
those who tell you to open wide both your hands like one 
who has nothing to lose, you waste your strength bragging 
about all sorts of things. 

Ci: To those who understand, even reflections arc 

A: If solid things do not exist, how much the less can 
we make use of reflections. Don’t go about babbling like 
a dreamer with his eyes open {like a sleepwalker), 



Stepping into the public hall, His Reverence said: 
Having many sorts of knowledge cannot compare with 
giving up SEEKING for anything, which is the best of all 
things. Mind is not of several kinds and there is no Doctrine 
which can be put into words. As there is no more to be said, 
the assembly is dismissed! 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

34. Q: What is meant by relative truth?^ 

A: What would you do with such a parasitical plant as 
that? Reality is perfect purity; why base a discussion on 
false terms? To be absolutely without concepts is called the 
Wisdom of Dispassion. Every day, whether walking, stand- 
ing, sitting or lying down, and in all your speech, remain 
detached from everything within the sphere of phenomena. 
Whether you speak or merely blink an eye, let it be done 
with complete dispassion. Now we are getting towards the 
end of the third period of five hundred years since the time 
of the Buddha, and most students of Zen cling to all sorts 
of sounds and forms. Why do they not copy me by letting 
each thought go as though it were nothing, or as though 
it were a piece of rotten wood, a stone, or the cold ashes 
of a dead fire? Or else, by just making whatever slight 
response is suited to each occasion? If you do not act thus, 
when you reach the end of your days here, you will be 
tortured by Yama.^ You must get away from the doctrines 
of existence and non-existence, for Mind is like the sun, 
forever in the void, shining spontaneously, shining without 

^ Liteially ‘worldly truth* no doubt used in the sense of ‘truths* 
applicable to the apparently objective sphere of daily life. 

* The KLing of Hell — ^here used figuratively. 



intending to shine. This is not something which you can 
accomplish without effort, but when you reach the point 
of clinging to nothing whatever, you will be acting as the 
Buddhas act. This will indeed be acting in accordance 
with the saying: ‘Develop a mind which rests on no thing 
whatever.^ For this is your pure Dharmakaya, which is 
called supreme perfect Enlightenment. If you cannot 
understand this, though you gain profound knowledge 
from your studies, though you make the most painful 
efforts and practise the most stringent austerities, you will 
still fail to know your own mind. All your effort will have 
been misdirected and you will certainly join the family of 
Mara. 2 What advantage can you gain from this sort of 
practice? As Ghih Kung® once said: ‘The Buddha is really 
the creation of your own Mind. How, then, can he be 
sought through scriptures?’ Though you study how to 
attain the Three Grades of Bodhisattvahood, the Four 
Grades of Sainthood, and the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva’s 
Progress to Enlightenment until your mind is full of them, 
you will merely be balancing yourself between ‘ordinary’ 
and ‘Enlightened’. Not to see that all methods of following 
the Way are ephemeral is saihsaric Dharma. 

Its strength once spent, the arrow falls to earth. 

You build up lives which won’t fulfil your hopes. 

How far below the Transcendental Gate 

From which one leap will gain the Buddha’s realm 

^ A famous quotation from the Diamond Sutra. 

* Prince of Devils — ^here used figuratively, 

® A famous sixth-century monk. 

* This verse is from the *Song of Enlightenment’ attributed to Yung 
Chia, a seven-century monk. This fascinating work has been translated 
in full by Dr. Walter Liebenthal and published in the Journal of Oriental 
Studies of the Catholic University of Peiping, Vol. VI, 1941* 



It is because you are not that sort of man that you insist 
on a thorough study of the methods established by people 
of old for gaining knowledge on the conceptual level. Chih 
Kung also said: ‘If you do not meet a transcendental 
teacher, you will have swallowed the Mahayana medicine 
in vain!’ 

* ♦ 3k 

35. If you would spend all your time — ^walking, standing, 
sitting or lying down — ^learning to halt the concept-forming 
activities of your own mind, you could be sure of ultimately 
attaining the goal. Since your strength is insufficient, you 
might not be able to transcend samsara by a single leap; 
but, after five or ten years, you would surely have made a 
good beginning and be able to make further progress 
spontaneously. It is because you are not that sort of man 
that you feel obliged to employ your mind ‘studying 
dhyana’ and ‘studying the Way*. What has all that got to 
do with Buddhism? So it is said that all the Tathagata 
taught was just to convert people; it was like pretending 
yellow leaves are real gold just to stop the flow of a child’s 
tears; it must by no means be regarded as though it were 
ultimate truth. If you take it for truth, you are no member 
of our sect; and what bearing can it have on your original 
substance? So the sutra says: ‘What is called supreme per- 
fect wisdom implies that there is realty nothing whatever 
to be attained.’ If you are also able to understand this, you 
will realize that the Way of the Buddhas and the Way of 
devils are equally wide of the mark. The original pure, 
glistening universe is neither square nor round, big nor 
small; it is without any such distinctions as long and short, 



it is beyond attachment and activity, ignorance and En- 
lightenment. You must see clearly that there is really 
nothing at all — no humans and no Buddhas. The great 
chiliocosms, numberless as grains of sand, are mere bubbles. 
All wisdom and all holiness are but streaks of lightning. 
None of them have the reality of Mind. The Dharmakaya, 
from ancient times until today, together with the Buddhas 
and Patriarchs, is One. How can it lack a single hair of 
anything? Even if you understand this, you must make the 
most strenuous efforts. Throughout this life, you can never 
be certain of living long enough to take another breath.^ 


36. Q,: The Sixth Patriarch was illiterate. How is it that 
he was handed the robe which elevated him to that office? 
Elder Sh^n Hsiu {a rival candidate) occupied a position above 
five hundred others and, as a teaching monk, he was able 
to expound thirty-two volumes of sutras. Why did he not 
receive the robe? 

A: Because he still indulged in conceptual thought — ^in 
a dharma of activity. To him ‘as you practise, so shall you 
attain’ was a reality. So the Fifth Patriarch made the trans- 
mission to Hui N^ng {Wei Lang), At that very moment, the 
latter attained a tacit understanding and received in silence 
the profoundest thought of the Tathagata. That is why the 
Dharma was transmitted to him. You do not see that the 


^ Buddhists believe that it is a rare and difficult thing to be bom a 
human being; and, as Enlightenment can only be attained from the 
human state, it is a matter of great urgency that we should press forward. 
Otherwise, die unique opportunity may be lost for many aeons. 



OF THE DHARMA BE A DHARMAp^ Whoever understands the 
meaning of this deserves to be called a monk, one skilled 
at ‘Dharma-practice’, If you do not believe this, you must 
explain the following story, ‘The Elder Wei Ming climbed 
to the summit of the Ta Yii Mountain to visit the Sixth 
Patriarch. The latter asked him why he had come. Was it 
for the robe or for the Dharma? The Elder Wei Ming 
answered that he had not come for the robe, but only for 
the Dharma; whereupon the Sixth Patriarch said: “Perhaps 
you will concentrate your thoughts for a moment and avoid 
thinking in terms of good and evil.’’ Ming did as he was 
told, and the Sixth Patriarch continued: “While you are 
not thinking of good and not thinking of evil, just at this 
very moment, return to what you were before your father 
and mother were born.” Even as the words were spoken, 
Ming arrived at a sudden tacit understanding. Accordingly 
he bowed to the ground and said: “I am like a man drink- 
ing water who knows in himself how cool it is. I have lived 
with the Fifth Patriarch and his disciples for thirty years, 
but it is only today that I am able to banish the mistakes 
in my former way of thinking.” The Sixth Patriarch re- 
plied: “Just so. Now at last you understand why, when the 

^ This passage has puzzled many a Chinese scholar. I am not sure 
that this translation conveys the meaning very well, but at least I have 
simplified the wording by using ‘doctrine’ as well as ‘dharma’. In the 
original, the same word is used for both. A word-for-word translation 
would run something like this: ‘Dharma original Dharma not Dharma, 
not Dharma Dharma also Dharma, now transmit not Dharma Dharma, 
Dharma Dharma how-can be Dharma.* I have closely followed a 
rendering made for me some years ago by Mr. I. T. Pun, a famous 
Buddhist scholar resident in Hongkong. He admits that this version 
merely represents his own opinion, but it seems to me the best possible. 
In my previous published translation I failed lamentably. 




First Patriarch arrived from India, he just pointed directly 
at men’s Minds, by which they could perceive their real 
Nature and become Buddhas, and why he never spoke of 
anything besides.” ’ Have we not seen how, when Ananda 
asked Kasyapa what the World Honoured had transmitted 
to him in addition to the golden robe, the latter exclaimed, 
‘Ananda!’ and, upon Ananda’s respectfully answering ‘Yes?’, 
continued: ‘Throw down the flagpole at the monastery 
gate.’ Such was the sign which the First {Indian) Patriarch 
gave him. For thirty years the wise Ananda ministered to 
the Buddha’s personal needs; but, because he was too fond 
of acquiring knowledge, the Buddha admonished him, 
saying: Tf you pursue knowledge for a thousand days, that 
will avail you less than one day’s proper study of the Way. 
If you do not study it, you will be unable to digest even a 
single drop of water!’ 




A collection of dialogues^ sermons and anecdotes recorded by P^ei 
Hsiu during his tenure of the prefecture of Wan Ling 

1. Once I put this question to the Master. How many 
of the four or five hundred persons gathered here on 
this mountain have fully understood Your Reverence*s 

The Master answered: Their number cannot be known. 
Why? Because my Way is through Mind-awakening. How 
can it be conveyed in words? Speech only produces some 
effect when it falls on the uninstructed ears of children. 

♦ * ♦ 

2. Q,: What is the Buddha?^ 

A: Mind is the Buddha, while the cessation of conceptual 
thought is the Way. Once you stop arousing concepts and 
thinking in terms of existence and non-existence, long and 
short, other and self, active and passive, and suchlike, you 
will find that your Mind is intrinsically the Buddha, that 
the Buddha is intrinsically Mind, and that Mind resembles 
a void.2 Therefore is it written that ‘the true Dharmakaya® 

^ The Absolute, 

* Meaning intangible, not a mere negation. 

• The Absolute Body of a Buddha. 



resembles a void’. Seek for naught besides this, else your 
search must end in sorrow. Though you perform the six 
paramitas^ for as many aeons as there are grains of sand 
in the Ganges, adding also all the other sorts of activities 
for gaining Enlightenment, you will still fall short of 
THE goal. Why? Because these are karma-forming activi- 
ties and, when the good karma they produce has been 
exhausted, you will be born again in the ephemeral world. 
Therefore is it also written: ‘The Samboghkaya^ is not a 
real Buddha, nor a real teacher of the Dharma.^ Only come 
to know the nature of your own Mind, in which there is 
no self and no other, and you will in fact be a Buddha! 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

3. (i: Allowing that the Enlightened man who achieves 
the cessation of conceptual thought is Buddha, would not 
an ignorant man, on ceasing to think conceptually, lose 
himself in oblivion? 

A: There are no Enlightened men or ignorant men, 
and there is no oblivion. Yet, though basically everything 
is without objective existence, you must not come to think 
in terms of anything non-existent; and though things are 
not non-existent, you must not form a concept of anything 
existing. For ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ are both em- 
pirical concepts no better than illusions. Therefore it is 
written: ‘Whatever the senses apprehend resembles an 

^ Charity, morality, patience under affliction, zealous application, 
right control of the mind, and the application of highest wisdom. 

* Buddha’s Body of Bliss. 

® This means that the idealized or heavenly form of a Buddha, to 
whom the Unenlightened pray, is unreal in that he is regarded as an 
entity and therefore as apart from the One Mind. 



illusion, including everything ranging from mental con- 
cepts to living beings.’ Our Founder^ preached to his dis- 
ciples naught but total abstraction leading to elimination 
of sense-perception. In this total abstraction does the Way 
of the Buddhas flourish; while from discrimination between 
this and that a host of demons blazes forth! 

S|t 3 |( 4c 

4, Q: If Mind and the Buddha^ are intrinsically one, 
should we continue to practise the six paramitas and the 
other orthodox means of gaining Enlightenment? 

A: Enlightenment springs from Mind, regardless of your 
practice of the six paramitas and the rest. All such practices 
are merely expedients for handling ‘concrete’ matters when 
dealing with the problems of daily life. Even Enlighten- 
ment, the Absolute, Reality, Sudden Attainment, the 
Dharmakaya and all the others down to the Ten Stages of 
Progress, the Four Rewards of virtuous and wise living and 
the State of Holiness and Wisdom are — every one of them 
— ^mere concepts for helping us through sariisara; they have 
nothing to do with the real Buddha-Mind. Since Mind is 
the Buddha, the ideal way of attainment is to cultivate that 
Buddha-Mind. Only avoid conceptual thoughts, which lead 
to becoming and cessation, to the alEHictions of the sentient 
world and all the rest; then you will have no need of methods 
of Enlightenment and suchlike. Therefore is it written: 

All the Buddha’s teachings just had this single object — 

To carry us beyond the stage of thought. 

Now, if I accomplish cessation of my thinking. 

What use to me the Dharmas Buddha taught? 

^ Bodhidarma, 

® Absolute. 



From Gautama Buddha down through the whole line 
of patriarchs to Bodhidharma, none preached aught besides 
the One Mind, otherwise known as the Sole Vehicle of 
Liberation. Hence, though you search throughout the whole 
universe, you will never find another vehicle. Nowhere has 
this teaching leaves or branches; its one quality is eternal 
truth. Hence it is a teaching hard to accept. When Bodhi- 
dharma came to China and reached the Kingdoms of Liang 
and Wei, only the Venerable Master Ko gained a silent 
insight into our own Mind; as soon as it was explained to 
him, he understood that Mind is the Buddha, and that 
individual mind and body are nothing. This teaching is 
called the Great Way. The very nature of the Great Way 
is voidness of opposition. Bodhidharma firmly believed in 
being one with the real ‘substance’ of the universe in 
THIS life! Mind and that ‘substance’ do not differ one jot — 
that ‘substance’ is Mind. They cannot possibly be separated. 
It was for this revelation that he earned the title of Patriarch 
of our sect, and therefore is it written: ‘The moment of 
realizing the unity of Mind and the “substance” which 
constitutes reality may truly be said to baffle description.’ 

^ « 

5. Q: Does the Buddha really liberate sentient beings?^ 
A: There are in reality no sentient beings to be delivered 
by the Tathagata. If even self has no objective existence, 
how much less has other-than-self! Thus, neither Buddha 
nor sentient beings exist objectively. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

1 From samsara — the endless round of birth and death. 



6. Q,: Yet it is recorded that "Whosoever possesses the 
thirty-two characteristic signs of a Buddha is able to 
deliver sentient beings’. How can you deny it? 

A: Anything possessing any signs is illusory. It is by 
perceiving that all signs are no signs that you perceive the 
Tathagata.^ "Buddha’ and "sentient beings’ are both your 
own false conceptions. It is because you do not know real 
Mind that you delude yourselves with such objective 
concepts. If you will conceive of a Buddha, you will be 
OBSTRUCTED BY THAT buddha!!! And when you conceive 
of sentient beings, you will be obstructed by those beings. 
All such dualistic concepts as "ignorant’ and "Enlightened’, 
‘pure’ and ‘impure’, are obstructions. It is because your 
minds are hindered by them that the Wheel of the Law 
must be turned.^ Just as apes spend their time throwing 
things away and picking them up again unceasingly, so it 
is with you and your learning. All you need is to give up 
your "learning’, your ‘ignorant’ and "Enlightened’, ‘pure’ 
and "impure’, "great’ and "little’, your "attachment’ and 
‘activity’. Such things are mere conveniences, mere orna- 
ments within the One Mind. I hear you have studied the 
sutras of the twelve divisions of the Three Vehicles. They 
are all mere empirical concepts. Really you must give them 

So just discard all you have acquired as being no better 
than a bed spread for you when you were sick. Only when 
you have abandoned all perceptions, there being nothing 
objective to perceive; only when phenomena obstruct you 
no longer; only when you have rid yourself of the whole 
gamut of dualistic concepts of the ‘ignorant’ and ‘En- 

1 Buddha. 

* I.e. that the relative truths of orthodox Buddhism must be taught, 



lightened’ category, will you at last earn the title of Trans- 
cendental Buddha. Therefore is it written: ‘Your pros- 
trations are in vain. Put no faith in such ceremonies. Hie 
from such false beliefs.’ Since Mind knows no divisions into 
separate entities, phenomena must be equally undijEferen- 
tiated. Since Mind is above all activities, so must it be with 
phenomena. Every phenomenon that exists is a creation of 
thought; therefore I need but empty my mind to discover 
that all of them are void. It is the same with all sense- 
objects, to whichever of the myriads of categories they 
belong. The entire void stretching out in all directions is 
of one substance with Mind; and, since Mind is funda- 
mentally undiiEFerentiated, so must it be with everything 
else. Different entities appear to you only because your 
perceptions differ — just as the colours of the precious 
delicacies eaten by the Devas are said to differ in ac- 
cordance with the individual merits of the Devas eating 

Anuttara-samyak-saihbodhP is a name for the realiza- 
tion that the Buddhas of the whole universe do not in fact 
possess the smallest perceptible attribute. There exists just 
the One Mind. Truly there are no multiplicity of forms, no 
Celestial Brilliance, and no Glorious Victory {over samsdra) 
or submission to the Victor.® Since no Glorious Victory was 
ever won, there can be no such formal entity as a Buddha; 
and, since no submission ever took place, there can be no 
such formal entities as sentient beings. 

♦ * ♦ 

7. Q: Even though Mind be formless, how can you deny 

^ Supreme Omniscience. 
® Buddha. 


the existence of the Thirty-Two Characteristic Signs of a 
Buddha, or of the Eighty Excellencies whereby people have 
been ferried over?^ 

A: The Thirty-Two Signs are signs, ^ and whatever has 
form is illusory. The Eighty Excellencies belong to the 
sphere of matter; but whoever perceives a self in matter 
is travelling the wrong path; he cannot comprehend the 
Tathagata thus. 

))e % 

8. a Does the essential substance of the Buddha differ at 
all from that of sentient beings or are they identical? 

A: Essential substance partakes neither of identity nor 
difference. If you accept the orthodox teachings of the 
Three Vehicles of Buddhism, discriminating between the 
Buddha-Nature and the nature of sentient beings, you will 
create for yourself Three Vehicle karma, and identities and 
differences will result. But if you accept the Buddha- 
Vehicle, which is the doctrine transmitted by Bodhi- 
dharma, you will not speak of such things; you will merely 
point to the One Mind which is without identity or differ- 
ence, without cause or effect.^ Therefore is it written: 
‘There is only the way of the One Vehicle; there is neither 
a second nor a third, except for those ways employed by 
the Buddha as purely relative expedients {updya) for the 
liberation of beings lost in delusion.’ 

4c ♦ « 

1 From samsara to Nirvana. 

* I.e* forms. 

* It is not Huang Po’s intention to deny the validity of karmic law as 
it applies to the ephemeral world of sarhsara, 



9 . Q,: Why was the Bodhisattva of Infinite Extent un- 
able to view the sacred sign on the crown of the Buddha’s 

A: There was really nothing for him to see. Why? The 
Bodhisattva of Infinite Extent was the Tathagata; it follows 
that the need to look did not arise. The parable is intended 
to prevent your conceiving of the Buddha and of sentient 
beings as entities and thereby falling into the error of 
spacial separateness. It is a warning against conceiving of 
entities as existing or not existing and thereby falling into 
the error of special separateness, and against conceiving of 
individuals as ignorant or Enlightened and thereby falling 
into that same error. Only one entirely liberated from con^ 
cepts can possess a body of infinite extent. All conceptual 
thinking is called erroneous belief. The upholders of such 
false doctrines delight in a multiplicity of concepts, but the 
Bodhisattva remains unmoved amid a whole host of them. 
Tathagata’ means the thusness of all phenomena. There- 
fore it is written: ‘Maitreya is thus; saints and sages are 
THUS.’ THUSNESS consists in not being subject to becoming 
or to destruction; thusness consists in not being seen and 
in not being heard. The crown of the Tathagata’s head is 
a concept of perfection, but it is also no-perfection-to-be- 
conceived. So do not fall into conceiving of perfection 
objectively. It follows that the Buddhakaya^ is above all 
activity: 3 therefore must you beware of discriminating 
between the myriads of separate forms. 

The ephemeral may be likened to mere emptiness;^ the 

^ It is clear that this question was asked by somebody not present 
during the previous discussions. 

* Absolute. 

* I.e. activity in production of form. 

* Flux. 



Great Void is perfection wherein is neither lack nor super- 
fluity, a uniform quiescence in which all activity is stilled.^ 
Do not argue that there may be other regions lying outside 
the Great Void, for such an argument would inevitably 
lead to discrimination. Therefore is it written: ‘Perfection^ 
is a deep sea of wisdom; saihsara^ is like a whirling chaos.’ 

When we talk of the knowledge T’ may gain, the learn- 
ing T’ may achieve, ‘my’ intuitive understanding, ‘my’ 
deliverence from rebirth, and ‘my’ moral way of living, our 
successes make these concepts seem pleasant to us, but our 
failures make them appear deplorable. What is the use of 
all that? I advise you to remain uniformly quiescent and 
above all activity. Do not deceive yourselves with concep- 
tual thinking, and do not look anywhere for the truth, for 
all that is needed is to refrain from allowing concepts to 
arise. It is obvious that mental concepts and external per- 
ceptions are equally misleading, and that the Way of the 
Buddhas^ is as dangerous to you as the way of demons. 
Thus, when Manju^ri temporarily entered into dualism, 
he found himself dwarfed by two iron mountains which 
made egress impossible. But Mahju^ri® had true under- 
standing, while Samantabhadra® possessed only ephemeral 
knowledge. Nevertheless, when true understanding and 

^ A distinction is here made between ‘void* in the sense of flux where 
all forms are seen in dissolution, and the Great Void which overspreads, 
penetrates and is all. When the scientists speak of the stuff of the world 
as mind-stuff, it is probable that they arc speaking of the flux, for the 
Great Void can hardly have been deduced from laws governing the 
ephemeral world of transitory phenomena. Compared with the Great 
Void, ‘mind-stuff* is a relatively substantial concept! 

• NirvS^a. 

• The transient universe, 

^ If conceived objectively. 

• The personification of Ultimate Wisdom, 

• The personification of Love and Action. 



ephemeral knowledge are properly integrated, it will be 
found that they no longer exist. There is only the One Mind, 
Mind which is neither Buddha nor sentient beings, for it 
contains no such dualism. As soon as you conceive of the 
Buddha, you are forced to conceive of sentient beings, 
or of concepts and no-concepts, of vital and trivial ones, 
which will surely imprison you between those two iron 

On account of the obstacles created by dualistic reason- 
ing, Bodhidharma merely pointed to the original Mind 
and substance of us all as being in fact the Buddha. He 
offered no false means of self-perfecting oneself; he belonged 
to no school of gradual attainment. His doctrine admits of 
no such attributes as light and dark. Since it^ is not light, 
lo there is no light; since it is not dark, lo there is no dark! 
Hence it follows that there is no Darkness,^ nor End of 
Darkness.^ Whosoever enters the gateway of our sect must 
deal with everything solely by means of the intellect.^ This 
sort of perception is known as the Dharma; as the Dharma 
is perceived, we speak of Buddha; while perceiving that in 
fact there are no Dharma and no Buddha is called entering 
the Sangha, who are otherwise known as ‘monks dwelling 
above all activity’; and the whole sequence may be called 
the Triratna or Three Jewels in one Substance.® 

^ Truth. 

* Avidya or primordial ignorance. 

® Enlightenment. 

* Here, ‘intellect* stands for manas, the highest faculty of the human 
mind by which a man rises from conceptual thought to intuitive know- 

® Huang Po is juggling with the most sacred of Buddhist terms, 
perhaps^ causing some of his hearers to stiffen with disapproval, but 
clearly in the hope of shocking them into a deeper understanding of 
truth. The terse humour with which he cloaks his underlying sincerity 
is lost in the translation. 



Those who seek the Dharma^ must not seek from the 
Buddha, nor from the Dharma^ nor from the Sangha. They 
should seek from nowhere. When the Buddha is not sought, 
there is no Buddha to be found! When the Dharma is not 
sought, there is no Dharma to be found! When the Sangha 
is not sought, there is no Sangha 1 

* Jk ♦ 

10. Q.: You yourself are a member of the Sangha now, 
obviously engaged in preaching the Dharma. Then how 
can you declare that neither of them exists? 

A: If you suppose there is a Dharma to be preached, you 
will naturally ask me to expound it, but if you postulate a 
‘me’, that implies a spacial entity! The Dharma is no 
Dharma — it is mind! Therefore Bodhidharma said: 

Though I handed down Mind’s Dharma, 

How can Dharma be a Dharma? 

For neither Mind nor Dharma 
Can objectively exist. 

Only thus you’ll understand 

The Dharma that is passed with Mind to Mind. 

Knowing that in truth not a single thing exists which 
can be attained!^ is called sitting in a bodhimandala.^ A 
bodhimandala is a state in which no concepts arise, in 
which you awaken to the intrinsic voidness of phenomena, 
also called the utter voidness of the Womb of Tathagatas.® 

1 Truth. 

® Doctrine. 

® Grasped, perceived, conceived, etc. 

^ A sanctuary for attaining Enlightenment. 

® The source of all phenomena. 



There’s never been a single thing; 

Then where’s defiling dust to cling? 

If you can reach the heart of this. 

Why talk of transcendental bliss?^ 

* ♦ jk 

II. Q,: If ‘there’s never been a single thing’, can we speak 
of phenomena as non-existent? 

A: ‘Non-existent’ is just as wrong as its opposite. 
Bodhi means having no concept of existence or non- 

♦ ♦ Jjc 

12 . Q: What is the Buddha?^ 

A: Your Mind is the Buddha. The Buddha is Mind. 
Mind and Buddha are indivisible. Therefore it is written: 
‘That which is Mind is the Buddha; if it is other than Mind, 
it is certainly other than Buddha.’ 

* * * 

13* Qj If our own Mind is the Buddha, how did 
Bodhidharma transmit his doctrine when he came from 

A: When he came from India, he transmitted only 
Mind-Buddha. He just pointed to the truth that the minds 

^ This famous poem of Hui N^ng is intended to refute the view that 
Mind is a mirror to be cleansed of the defiling dust of phenomena, 
passion and other illusions, for this view leads to dualism, besides imply- 
ing a certain degree of objectivity in the nature of mind. The dust and 
the mirror are one intangible unity. 

® The questioner seems to be a newcomer. 



of all of you have from the very first been identical with 
the Buddha, and in no way separate from each other. That 
is why we call him our Patriarch. Whoever has an instant 
understanding of this truth suddenly transcends the whole 
hierarchy of saints and adepts belonging to any of the Three 
Vehicles. You have always been one with the Buddha, so 
do not pretend you can attain to this oneness by various 

14. Q: If that is so, what Dharma do all the Buddhas 
teach when they manifest themselves in the world? 

A: When all the Buddhas manifest themselves in the 
world, they proclaim nothing but the One Mind. Thus, 
Gautama Buddha silently transmitted to Mahakasyapa the 
doctrine that the One Mind, which is the substance of all 
things, is co-extensive with the Void and fills the entire 
world of phenomena. This is called the Law of All the 
Buddhas. Discuss it as you may, how can you even hope 
to approach the truth through words? Nor can it be per- 
ceived either subjectively or objectively. So full under- 
standing can come to you only through an' inexpress- 
ible mystery. The approach to it is called the Gateway 
of the Stillness beyond all Activity. If you wish to under- 
stand, know that a sudden comprehension comes when 
the mind has been purged of all the clutter of con- 
ceptual and discriminatory thought-activity. Those who 
seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get 
further and further away from it. Not till your thoughts 
cease all their branching here and there, not till you 
abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your 

^ We cannot become what we have always been; we can only become 
intuitively aware of our original state, previously hidden from us by 
the clouds of maya. 



mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the 
right road to the Gate.^ 

* ♦ 

1 5. Q: At this very moment, all sorts of erroneous thoughts 
are constantly flowing through our minds. How can you 
speak of our having none? 

A: Error has no substance; it is entirely the product of 
your own thinking. If you know that Mind is the Buddha 
and that Mind is fundamentally without error, whenever 
thoughts arise, you will be fully convinced that they are 
responsible for errors. If you could prevent all conceptual 
movements of thought and still your thinking-processes, 
naturally there would be no error left in you. Therefore is 
it said: ‘When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When 
thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.’ 


16. Q: At this moment, while erroneous thoughts are 
arising in my mind, where is the Buddha?^ 

A: At this moment you are conscious of those erroneous 

^ These words recall the admonitions of so many mystics — ^Buddhist, 
Christian, Hindu or Sufi — ^who have committed their experience to 
words. What Huang Po calls the total abandonment of hsin — mind, 
thought, perceptions, concepts and the rest — ^implies the utter surrender 
of self insisted on by Sufi, and Christian mystics. Indeed, in paragraph 28 
he used the very words: ^let the self perish utterly*. Such striking 
unanimity of expression by mystics widely separated in time and space 
can hardly be attributed to coincidence. No several persons entirely 
imacquainted with one another could produce such closely similar 
accounts of purely imaginary journeys. Hence one is led to suppose 
that what they describe is real. This seems to have been Aldous Huxley*s 
view when he compiled that valuable work The Perennial Philosophy, 

* Is the One Mind then no longer present in me? 



thoughts. Well, your consciousness is the Buddha! Perhaps 
you can understand that, were you but free of these de- 
lusory mental processes, there would then be no ‘Buddha’. 
Why so? Because when you allow a movement of your mind 
to result in a concept of the Buddha, you are bringing into 
existence an objective being capable of being Enlightened, 
Similarly, any concept of sentient beings in need of de- 
liverance CREATES such bcings as objects of your thoughts. 
All intellectual processes and movements of thought result 
from your concepts.^ If you were to refrain from concep- 
tualizing altogether, where could the Buddha continue to 
exist? You are in the same predicament as Mahju^ri who, 
as soon as he permitted himself to conceive of the Buddha 
as an objective entity, was dwarfed and hemmed in on all 
sides by those two iron mountains. 

♦ ♦ * 

17. Q: At the moment of Enlightenment, where is the 

A: Whence does your question proceed? Whence does 
your consciousness arise? When speech is silenced, all move- 
ment stilled, every sight and sound vanished — ^then is the 
Buddha’s work of deliverence truly going forward! Then, 
where will you seek the Buddha? You cannot place a head 
upon your head, or lips upon your lips; rather, you should 
just refrain from every kind of dualistic distinction.^ Hills 
are hills. Water is water. Monks are monks. Laymen are 
laymen. But these mountains, these rivers, the whole world 

^ Which bring the corresponding thought objects into existence. 

* Since we are the Buddha, to seek him elsewhere is to place a head 
upon our head. 




itself, together with sun, moon and stars — not one of them 
exists outside your minds! The vast chiliocosm exists only 
within you, so where else can the various categories of 
phenomena possibly be found? Outside Mind, there is 
nothing. The green hills which everywhere meet your gaze 
and that void sky that you see glistening above the earth — 
not a hairsbreadth of any of them exists outside the 
concepts you have formed for yourself! So it is that 
every single sight and sound is but the Buddha’s Eye of 

Phenomena do not arise independently but rely upon 
environment,* And it is their appearing as objects which 
necessitates all sorts of individualized knowledge. You may 
talk the whole day through, yet what has been said? You 
may listen from dawn till dusk, yet what will you have 
heard? Thus, though Gautama Buddha preached for forty- 
nine years, in truth no word was spoken.* 

♦ ♦ jk 

1 8. Q,: Assuming all this is so, what particular state is 
connoted by the word Bodhi?^ 

A: Bodhi is no state. The Buddha did not attain to it. 
Sentient beings do not lack it. It cannot be reached with 
the body nor sought with the mind. All sentient beings 
ARE ALREADY of one form with Bodhi. 

1 The Buddha’s Eye of Wisdom commonly means the eye with which 
he perceives the true unity of all things. Huang Po, however, does not 
say ‘perceived by the Eye’, but uses the phrase ‘is the Eye’, thereby 
identifying see-er and seen. 

* I.e. the mental environment created by us. 

* Words belong to the realm of flux and illusion. The truth is beyond 
words, a silent and profound experience. The Buddha spoke of relative 
means. Viewed absolutely, no word was spoken. 

* Enlightenment or Supreme Wisdom. 



19. Q^: But how does one 'Attain to the Bodhi-Mind’? 

A: Bodhi is not something to be attained.^ If, at this 
very moment, you could convince yourselves of its unattaina- 
bility, being certain indeed that nothing at all can ever be 
attained, you would already be Bodhi-minded. Since Bodhi 
is not a state, it is nothing for you to attain. And therefore 
is it written of Gautama Buddha: 'While I was yet in the 
realm of Dipamkara Buddha, there was not a grain of 
anything to be attained by me. It was then that Dipamkara 
Buddha made his prophecy that I, too, should become a 
Buddha.’ If you know positively that all sentient beings are 
already one with Bodhi, you will cease thinking of Bodhi 
as something to be attained. You may recently have heard 
others talking about this 'attaining of the Bodhi-Mind’, but 
this may be called an intellectual way of driving the Buddha 
away! By following this method, you only appear to achieve 
Buddhahood; if you were to spend aeon upon aeon in that 
way, you would only achieve the Sambhogakaya and 
Nirmanakaya. What connection would all that have with 
your original and real Buddha-Nature?^ Therefore is it 
written: 'Seeking outside for a Buddha possessed of form 
has nothing to do with you.’ 




20. Q,: If we have always been one with the Buddha 
{Absolute) i why are there nevertheless beings who come into 

^ Perceived, grasped, entered, realized, conceived, etc. 

® I.e, you would achieve the physical and spiritual aspects of a Buddha, 
which an Enlightened One bears within the various realms of transitory 
existence, but you would lack the Dharmakaya, the aspect of a Buddha 
as identical with the Absolute, 



existence through the four kinds of birth and enter the six 
states of existence^ each with the characteristic forna and 
appearance of its kind? 

A: The essential Buddha-Substance is a perfect whole, 
without superfluity or lack. It permeates the six states of 
existence and yet is everywhere perfectly whole. Thus, 
every single one of the myriads of phenomena in the 
universe is the Buddha {Absolute), This substance may be 
likened to a quantity of quicksilver which, being scattered 
in all directions, everywhere re-forms into perfect wholes. 
When undispersed, it is of one piece, the one comprising 
the whole and the whole comprising the one. The various 
forms and appearances, on the other hand, may be likened 
to dwellings. Just as one abandons a stable in favour of a 
house, so one exchanges a physical body for a heavenly 
body, and so on up to the planes of Pratyeka-Buddhas, 
Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. But all alike are things sought 
by you or abandoned by you; hence the differences between 
them. How is it possible that the original and essential 
nature of the universe should be subject to this differentia- 


21. Q: How do the Buddhas, out of their vast mercy and 
compassion, preach the Dharma {Law) to sentient beings? 

A: We speak of their mercy and compassion as vast just 
because it is beyond causality {and therefore infinite). By 
mercy is really meant not conceiving of a Buddha to be 
Enlightened, while compassion really means not conceiv- 
ing of sentient beings to be delivered.^ 

^ The Zen Masters, in their single-minded desire to lead their disciples 
beyond the realm of dualism, would have them abandon even the 



In reality, their Dharma is neither preached in words 
nor otherwise signified; and those who listen neither hear 
nor attain. It is as though an imaginary teacher had 
preached to imaginary people. As regards all these dharmas 
{teachings) y if, for the sake of the Way, I speak to you from 
my deeper knowledge and lead you forward, you will 
certainly be able to understand what I say; and, as to 
mercy and compassion, if for your sakes I take to thinking 
things out and studying other people’s concepts — ^in neither 
case will you have reached a true perception of the real 
nature of your own Mind from within yourselves. So, in 
the end, these things will be of no help at all. 

♦ ♦ * 

22. Q,: What is the meaning of ^zealous application’?^ 

A: The most completely successful form of zealous 
application is the absence from your minds of all such 
distinctions as ^my body’, ‘my mind’. As soon as you begin 
to seek for something outside your own Mind, you are 
like Kaliraja bent on hunting.^ But when you prevent your 
minds from going on travels outside themselves, you are 
already a ksanti-rishi. no bodies and no minds — that is 
the Way of the Buddhas! 

♦ ♦ 

notion of compassion as such, since it leads to the dualistic concept of 
its opposite. By Zen adepts compassion must be practised as a matter o, 
course and without giving rise to the least feeling of self-satisfaction 
Still less may it be practised as a means of gaining some heavenly or 
earthly reward. 

® One of the six p5ramitas. 

* Kaliraja is said to have sliced up some sages, including a former 
incarnation of Gautama Buddha. The latter bore this piecemeal dis- 
memberment with the equanimity of a ksanti-rishi, one who practises 
the paramita of uncomplaining patience in affliction. 



23. Q,‘. If I follow this Way, and refrain from intellectual 
processes and conceptual thinking, shall I be certain of 
attaining the goal? 

A: Such non-intellection is following the Way! Why this 
talk of attaining and not attaining? The matter is thus — 
by thinking of something you create an entity and by 
thinking of nothing you create another. Let such erroneous 
thinking perish utterly, and then nothing will remain for 
you to go seeking! 

♦ ♦ Xc 

24. Q,: What is meant by ‘Transcending the Three 
Worlds? {Of desire^ form and formlessness.)^ 

A: Transcending the Three Worlds connotes rising 
beyond the dualism of good and evil. Buddhas appear in 
the world in order to make an end of desire, of form and 
of formless phenomena. For you also the Three Worlds will 
vanish if you can reach the state beyond thought. On the 
other hand, if you still cling to the notion that something, 
even if it be as small as the hundredth part of a grain, 
might exist objectively, then even a perfect mastery of the 
entire Mahayana Canon will fail to give you victory over 
the Three Worlds. Only when every one of those tiny 
fragments is seen to be nothing can the Mahayana achieve 
this victory for you.^ 

* * * 

^ The formless world is far other than the Great Void, being one of the 
three states or worlds constituting sarhsara. 

* I.e. even atoms have no objective existence — ^whether atoms of 
matter or those atoms of consciousness in which certain Buddhist meta- 
physicians believed. 



25. One day-j after taking his seat in the great hall, the 
Master began as follows. Since Mind is the Buddha {Abso- 
lute)^ it embraces all things, from the Buddhas {Enlightened 
Beings) at one extreme to the meanest of belly-crawling 
reptiles or insects at the other. All these alike share the 
Buddha-Nature and all are of the substance of the One 
Mind. So, after his arrival from the West, Bodhidharma 
transmitted naught but the Dharma of the One Mind, He 
pointed directly to the truth that all sentient beings have 
always been of one substance with the Buddha, He did not 
follow any of those mistaken ^methods of attainment’. And 
if YOU could only achieve this comprehension of your own 
Mind, thereby discovering your real nature, there would 
assuredly be nothing for you to seek, either. 

3|e 4c )|e 

26. Q: How, then, does a man accomplish this compre- 
hension of his own Mind? 

A: That which asked the question is your own Mind; 
but if you were to remain quiescent and to refrain from the 
smallest mental activity, its substance would be seen as a 
void — ^you would find it formless, occupying no point in 
space and falling neither into the category of existence nor 
into that of non-existence. Because it is imperceptible, 
Bodhidharma said: ‘Mind, which is our real nature, is the 
unbegotten and indestructible Womb; in response to 
circumstances, it transforms itself into phenomena. For the 
sake of convenience, we speak of Mind as the intelligence; 
but when it does not respond to circumstances,^ it cannot 
be spoken of in such dualistic terms as existence or non- 

^ Aad so rests from creating objects. 



existence. Besides, even when engaged in creating objects in 
response to causality, it is still imperceptible. If you know 
this and rest tranquilly in nothingness — then you are in- 
deed following the Way of the Buddhas. Therefore does 
the sutra say: ‘Develop a mind which rests on no thing 

Every one of the sentient beings bound to the wheel of 
alternating life and death is re-created from the karma of 
his own desires! Endlessly their hearts remain bound to the 
six states of existence, thereby involving them in all sorts 
of sorrow and pain. Ch‘ing Ming^ says: ‘There are people 
with minds like those of apes who are very hard to teach; 
people who need all sorts of precepts and doctrines with 
which to force their hearts into submission.’ And so when 
thoughts arise, all sorts of dharmas^ follow, but they vanish 
with thought’s cessation. We can see from this that every 
sort of dharma is but a creation of Mind. And all kinds of 
beings — Shumans, devas, sufferers in hell, asuras and all 
comprised within the six forms of life — each one of them is 
Mind-created. If only you would learn how to achieve a 
state of non-intellection, immediately the chain of causa- 
tion would snap. 

Give up those erroneous thoughts leading to false dis- 
tinctions! There is no ‘self’ and no ‘other’. There is no 
‘wrong desire’, no ‘anger’, no ‘hatred’, no ‘love’, no 
‘victory’, no ‘failure’. Only renounce the error of intellec- 
tual or conceptual thought-processes and your nature will 
exhibit its pristine purity — ^for this alone is the way to attain 
Enlightenment, to observe the Dharma {Law)y to become 
a Buddha and all the rest. Unless you understand this, the 

^ A famous lay-disciple. 

^ Doctrines, precepts, concepts, things. 



whole of your great learning, your painful efforts to 
advance, your austerities of diet and clothing, will not help 
you to a knowledge of your own Mind. All such practices 
must be termed fallacious, for any of them will lead to 
your rebirth among ‘demons’ — enemies of the truth — or 
among the crude nature spirits. What end is served by 
pursuits like those? Chih Kung says: ‘Our bodies are the 
creations of our own minds.’ But how can one expect to 
gain such knowledge from books? If only you could com- 
prehend the nature of your own Mind and put an end to 
discriminatory thought, there would naturally be no room 
for even a grain of error to arise. Ch‘ing Ming expressed 
this in a verse: 

Just spread out a mat 
For reclining quite flat — 

When thought’s tied to a bed 
Like a sick man growing worse. 
All karma will cease 
And all fancies disperse. 
that’s what is meant by Bodhii 

As it is, so long as your mind is subject to the slightest 
movement of thought, you will remain engulfed in the error 
of taking ‘ignorant’ and ‘Enlightened’ for separate states; 
this error will persist regardless of your vast knowledge of 
the Mahayana or of your ability to pass through the ‘Four 
Grades of Sainthood’ and the ‘Ten Stages of Progress 
Leading to Enlightenment’. For all these pursuits belong 
to what is ephemeral; even the most strenuous of your 
efforts is doomed to fail, just as an arrow shot never so high 
into the air must inevitably fall spent to the ground. So, 



in spite of them, you are certain to find yourselves back on 
the wheel of life and death. Indulging in such practices 
implies your failure to understand the Buddha’s real 
meaning. Surely the endurance of so much unnecessary 
suffering is nothing but a gigantic error, isn’t it? Chih Kung 
says elsewhere: 'If you do not meet with a teacher able to 
transcend the worlds, you will go on swallowing the 
medicine of the Mahayana Dharma quite in vain.’ 

Were you now to practise keeping your minds motionless 
at all times, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying; 
concentrating entirely upon* the goal of no thought-crea- 
tion, no duality, no reliance on others and no attachments; 
just allowing all things to take their course the whole day 
long, as though you were too ill to bother; unknown to the 
world; innocent of any urge to be known or unknown to 
others; with your minds like blocks of stone that mend no 
holes — then all the Dharmas^ would penetrate your under- 
standing through and through. In a little while you would 
find yourselves firmly unattached. Thus, for the first time 
in your lives, you would discover your reactions to pheno- 
mena decreasing and, ultimately, you would pass beyond 
the Triple World; and people would say that a Buddha 
had appeared in the world. Pure and passionless knowledge^ 
implies putting an end to the ceaseless flow of thoughts and 
images, for in that way you stop creating the karma that 
leads to rebirth — ^whether as gods or men or as sufferers in 

Once every sort of mental process has ceased, not a 
particle of karma is formed. Then, even in this life, your 
minds and bodies become those of a being completely 

^ Laws of Existence or Universal Laws. 

* Enlightenment. 



liberated. Supposing that this does not result in freeing you 
immediately from further rebirths, at the very least you 
will be assured of rebirth in accordance with your own 
wishes. The sutra declares: ‘Bodhisattvas are re-embodied 
into whatsoever forms they desire.’ But were they suddenly 
to lose the power of keeping their minds free from concep- 
tual thought, attachment to form would drag them back 
into the phenomenal world, and each of those forms would 
create for them a demon’s karma! 

With the practices of the Pure Land Buddhists it is also 
thus, for all these practices are productive of karma; hence, 
we may call them Buddha-hindrances! As they would 
obstruct your Mind, the chain of causation would also 
grapple you fast, dragging you back into the state of those 
as yet unliberated.^ 

Hence all dharmas such as those purporting to lead to 
the attainment of Bodhi possess no reality. The words of 
Gautama Buddha were intended merely as efficacious ex- 
pedients for leading men out of the darkness of worse 
ignorance. It was as though one pretended yellow leaves 
were gold to stop the flow of a child’s tears. Samyak- 
Saihbodhi* is another name for the realization that there 
are no valid Dharmas. Once you understand this, of what 
use are such trifles to you? According harmoniously with 

^ The Pure Land Sect advocates utter reliance upon Amida, Buddha 
of Boundless Light and Life, holding that perfect faith will ensure re- 
birth in a paradise where preparation for final Enlightenment follows 
under ideal conditions. Zen Buddhists, on the contrary, often claim 
that reliance on Amida Buddha is the negation of that self-reliance 
which Gautama Buddha taught to be the only sure path. Nevertheless, 
the Pure Land doctrine properly understood is not truly opposed to 
Zen, since the real meaning of Amida is the Buddha-Substance innate 
in man, and rebirth into his paradise implies the awakening of the 
individual’s mind to its Oneness with the Buddha-Substance. 

2 Supreme Knowledge, 



the conditions of your present lives, you should go on, as 
opportunities arise, reducing the store of old karma laid up 
in previous lives; and above all, you must avoid building 
up a fresh store of retribution for yourselves! 

Mind is filled with radiant clarity, so cast away the dark- 
ness of your old concepts, Ch^ing Ming says: ‘Rid your- 
selves of everything/ The sentence in the Lotus Sutra con- 
cerning a whole twenty years spent in the shovelling away 
of manure symbolizes the necessity of driving from your 
minds whatever tends to the formation of concepts. In an- 
other passage, the same sutra identifies the pile of dung 
which has to be carted away with metaphysics and sophis- 
try. Thus the ‘Womb of the Tathagatas’ is intrinsically a 
voidness and silence containing no individualized dharmas 
of any sort or kind. And therefore says the sutra: ‘The 
entire realms of all the Buddhas are equally void/^ 

Though others may talk of the Way of the Buddhas as 
something to be reached by various pious practices and 
by sutra-study, you must have nothing to do with such 
ideas. A perception, sudden as blinking, that subject and 
object are one, will lead to a deeply mysterious wordless 
understanding; and by this understanding will you awake 
to the truth of Zen. When you happen upon someone who 
has no understanding, you must claim to know nothing. 
He may be delighted by his discovery of some ‘way to En- 
lightenment’; yet if you allow yourselves to be persuaded 
by him, you will experience no delight at all, but suffer 
both sorrow and disappointment. What have such thoughts 
as his to do with the study of Zen? Even if you do obtain 
from him some trifling ‘method’, it will only be a thought- 

^ The implication is that the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha is 
as void as lie rest of them. 



constructed dharma having nothing to do with Zen. Thus, 
Bodhidharma sat rapt in meditation before a wall; he did 
not seek to lead people into having opinions. Therefore it 
is written: ‘To put out of mind even the principle from 
which action springs is the true teaching of the Buddhas, 
while dualism belongs to the sphere of demons.’ 

Your true nature is something never lost to you even in 
moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of 
Enlightenment. It is the Nature of the Bhutatathata. In it 
is neither delusion nor right understanding. It fills the 
Void everywhere and is intrinsically of the substance of the 
One Mind. How, then, can your mind-created objects 
exist outside the Void? The Void is fundamentally without 
spacial dimensions, passions, activities, delusions or right 
understanding. You must clearly understand that in it 
there are no things, no men and no Buddhas; for this Void 
contains not the smallest hairsbreadth of anything that can 
be viewed spacially; it depends on nothing and is attached 
to nothing. It is all-pervading, spotless beauty; it is the 
self-existent and uncreated Absolute. Then how can it even 
be a matter for discussion that the real Buddha has no 
mouth and preaches no Dharma, or that real hearing 
requires no ears, for who could hear it? Ah, it is a jewel 
beyond all price!^ 

^This passage, in which the Master comes as near as possible to 
describing the indescribable, using terms as ‘all-pervading spotless 
beauty*, should be sxafEcient answer to those critics of Buddhist ‘pessi- 
mism’ who suppose that the doctrine of ^unyata or yoidness equates 
Nirvana with total extinction. 



27. Our Master came originally from Fukien, but took 
his vows upon Mount Huang Po in this prefecture while 
he was still very young.^ In the centre of his forehead was 
a small lump shaped like a pearl. His voice was soft and 
agreeable, his character unassuming and placid. 

Some years after his ordination, while journeying to 
Mount T'ien T^ai, he fell in with a monk with whom he 
soon came to feel like an old acquaintance; so they con- 
tinued their journey together. Finding the way barred by 
a mountain stream in flood, our Master lent upon his staff 
and halted, at which his friend entreated him to proceed. 

‘No. You go first,’ said our Master. So the former floated 
his big straw rain-hat on the torrent and easily made his 
way to the other side.^ 

T,’ sighed the Master, ‘have allowed such a fellow to 
accompany me! I ought to have slain him with a blow of 
my staff !’ 3 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

28. Once a certain monk, on taking leave of Master Kuei 
Tsung, was asked where he intended to go. 

^ It was from this mountain that the Venerable Hsi Yiin received the 
name by which he has been most commonly known until today. 

^ Using it as a raft. 

® This anecdote seems to mean that the other monk was displaying 
one of the supranormal powers which dhyana-practice brings in its 
train but which should properly be regarded as mere by-products never 
to be used except in case of dire necessity. Huang Po was clearly dis- 
gusted with his companion for showing off. 



'I intend to visit all the places where the five kinds of 
Zen are taught/ he replied. 

‘Oh/ exclaimed Kuei Tsung. ‘Other places may have 
five kinds; here we have only the one kind/ 

But when the monk enquired what it was, he received a 
sudden blow. ‘I see, I see!’ he shouted excitedly. 

‘Speak, speak!’ roared Kuei Tsung. So the monk got 
ready to say something further, but just at that moment 
he received another blow. 

Afterwards, this same monk arrived at our Master’s 
monastery and, being asked by Huang Po where he had 
come from, explained that he had recently left Kuei Tsung. 

‘And what instructions did you receive from him?’ 
enquired our Master, whereupon the monk related the 
above story. 

During the next assembly, our Master took this anecdote 
for his text and said: ‘Master Ma^ really excels the Eighty- 
Four Deeply Enlightened Ones! The questions people ask 
are all of them no better than stinking muck saturating the 
ground. There is only Kuei Tsung who is worth something.’^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

29, Our Master once attended an assembly at the 
Bureau of the Imperial Salt Commissioners at which the 

^ Another name for Kuei Tsung. 

* Those familiar with Dr. Suzuki^s books on Zen will not misinterpret 
Kuei Tsuhg’s blows as being due to unnecessary crudeness or violence, 
nor Huang Po’s strong language as being gratuitously rude. It seems 
that blows and strong language delivered at the right moment may 
induce satori, a flash of Enlightenment. The younger monk was in 
search of methods of withdrawal from the world by means of deep 
contemplation, and Kuei Tsung’s first blow was intended as an antidote, 
for it implied: ‘The hand of bone and muscle which now causes you 
pain is as truly the Absolute as the mystic fervour you experience during 
contemplation.’ The second blow illustrated the folly of trying to express 
a sudden understanding of truth in words. 



Emperor T‘ai Chung was also present as a ^ramanera.^ 
The ^ramanera noticed our Master enter the hall of worship 
and make a triple prostration to the Buddha, whereupon 
he asked: ‘If we are to seek nothing from the Buddha, 
Dharma or Sangha, what does Your Reverence seek by 
such prostrations?’ 

‘Though I seek not from the Buddha,’ replied our Master, 
‘or from the Dharma, or from the Sangha, it is my custom 
to show respect in this way.’ 

‘But what purpose does it serve?’ insisted the iSramanera, 
whereupon he suddenly received a slap. 

‘Oh,’ he exclaimed. ‘How uncouth you are!’ 

‘What is this?’ cried the Master. ‘Imagine making a dis- 
tinction between refined and uncouth!’ So saying, he 
administered another slap, causing the Sramanera to 
betake himself elsewhere!^ 

3(c ))c sfe 

30. During his travels, our Master paid a visit to Nan 
Ch‘uan {his senior). One day at dinner-time, he took his 
bowl and seated himself opposite Nan Ch'iian’s high chair. 

^ Here, probably, meaning a layman who had taken ten precepts 
instead of the normal five. 

* This story is, to anyone familiar with the customs of Eastern courts, 
hair-raising. That Huang Po should have dared to slap the Divine 
Emperor, the Son of Heaven, indicates both the immensity of the 
Master’s personal prestige and the utter fearlessness which results 
logically from an unshakeable conviction that saihsaric life is but a 
dream. The Emperor’s willingness to accept the blow without retalia- 
tion indicates the depth of his admiration for the Master. It must be 
remembered that Huang Po, as one of several Masters belonging to a 
relatively small sect, with no temporal authority whatever, cannot be 
compared to a Western pope or archbishop who, under certain circum- 
stances, might be able to strike a reigning emperor with impunity by 
reason of his authority as a Prince of the Church. 



Noticing him there. Nan Chilian stepped down to receive 
him and asked: ‘How long has Your Reverence been 
following the Way?’ 

‘Since before the era of Bhisma Raja,’ came the reply.^ 

‘Indeed?’ exclaimed Nan Chilian. ‘It seems that Master 
Ma^ has a worthy grandson® here.’ Our Master then walked 
quietly away. 

A few days later, when our Master was going out. Nan 
Ch‘han remarked: ‘You are a huge man, so why wear a 
hat of such ridiculous size?’ 

‘Ah, well,’ replied our Master. ‘It contains vast numbers 
of chiliocosms.’ 

‘Well, what of me?’ enquired Nan Ch‘ilan, but the 
Master put on his hat and walked off.^ 

4c :ic 

^ This implies that he had been upon the Way since many aeons before 
the present world cycle be^an — an allusion to the eternity in which we 
all share by reason of our identity with the One Mind. 

* Nan Gh'iian himself. 

® Spiritual descendant. 

* Just as the first part of the anecdote implies coexistence with eternity, 
so the second demonstrates coextensiveness with the Void. When the 
Master walks away, he implies that he has had the better of the argu- 
ment. As will be seen, he acknowledges defeat with a triple prostration. 
Japanese commentators incline to the view that Huang Po*s famous hat 
was too big even for him; but the Chinese, rightly I think, take it that 
the hat was much too small — ^which, of course, adds to the point of the 
story. The words of the text are ‘tai ko hsieh-tz^ ta li* — ‘wear one 
tiny-sized haf ; but the word ta, meaning ‘size^ or ‘sized’ also com- 
monly means ‘big’. Hence the error, which is more understandable in- 
asmuch as HSiEH-Tzd — ‘tiny’ — ^is a h^hly colloquial Chinese term which 
probably means something quite different in Japanese. See beneath : 




31. Another day, our Master was seated in the tea-room 
when Nan Ch'uan came down and asked him: ‘What 
is meant by “A clear insight into the Buddha-Nature re- 
sults from the study of dhyana {mind control) and prajha 

Our Master replied: ‘It means that, from morning till 
night, we should never rely on a single thing.’ 

‘But isn’t that just Your Reverence’s own concept of its 

‘How could I be so presumptuous?’ 

‘Well, Your Reverence, some people might pay out cash 
for rice-water, but whom could you ask to give anything 
for a pair of home-made straw sandals like that?’ 

At this our Master remained silent. 

Later, Wei Shan mentioned the incident to Yang Shan, 
enquiring if our Master’s silence betokened defeat. 

‘Oh no!’ answered Yang. ‘Surely you know that Huang 
Po has a tiger’s cunning?’ 

‘Indeed there’s no limit to your profundity,’ exclaimed 
the other,^ 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

32. Once our Master requested a short leave of absence 
and Nan Shan asked where he was going. 

‘I’m just off to gather some vegetables.’ 

‘What are you going to cut them with?’ 

^ Nan Ch'iian had made use of a term which was anathema to Huang 
Po — ‘concept’. His silence was deeply significant; it implied that the 
Master never indulged in concepts; and, perhaps, further, that ‘Your 
Reverence’s’ in the sense of ‘your’ was ^so a term without validity. 
But it took a man of Yang Shan’s calibre to penetrate through to his 



Our Master held up his knife, whereupon Nan Shan 
remarked: 'Well, that’s all right for a guest but not for 
a host.’ 

Our Master showed his appreciation with a triple 

♦ * 

33. One day, five new arrivals presented themselves to our 
Master in a group. One of them, instead of making the 
customary prostration, remained standing and greeted him 
somewhat casually with a motion of his clasped hands. 

'And do you know how to be a good hunting-dog?’ 
enquired our Master, 

'I must follow the antelope’s scent.’ 

'Suppose it leaves no scent, what will you follow then?’ 

‘Then I’d follow its hoof-marks.’ 

‘And if there were no hoof-marks, what then?’ 

‘I could still follow the animal’s tracks.’ 

'But what if there were not even tracks? How would you 
follow it then?’ 

'In that case,’ said the newcomer, 'it would surely be a 
dead antelope.’ 

Our Master said nothing more at the time but, on the 
following morning after his sermon, he asked: 'Will yester- 
day’s antelope-hunting monk now step forward.’ The monk 
complied and our Master enquired: 'Yesterday, my 

1 1 find this anecdote hard to understand. Even the Zen Master J6n 
W^n, who experienced little difficulty in answering my other questions, 
remained silent over this one. So I am forced to venture my own guess, 
which is that the operative sentence means ‘Well, by all means use it, 
but don’t let it use you’, implying that only CAimous and temporary 


whether a good interpretation or not, is at any rate one of Huang Po’s 
most firmly held opinions. 



Reverend friend, you were left without anything to say. 
How was that?’ 

Finding that the other returned no answer, he continued: 
‘Ah, you may call yourself a real monk, but you are just 
an amateur novice.’^ 

♦ * * 

34. Once, when our Master had just dismissed the first 
of the daily assemblies at the K‘ai Yuan Monastery near 
Hung Chou, P happened to enter its precincts. Presently 
I noticed a wall-painting and, by questioning the monk 
in charge of the monastery’s administration, learnt that it 
portrayed a certain famous monk. 

‘Indeed?’ I said. ‘Yes, I can see his likeness before me, 
but where is the man himself?’ My question was received 
in silence.^ 

So I remarked: ‘But surely there are Zen monks here in 
this temple, aren’t there?’ 

‘Yes,’ replied the monastery administrator, ‘there is 


After that, I requested an audience with the Master and 
repeated to him my recent conversation. 

1 Huang Po’s opening remark implies that he was ready to accord the 
newcomer the equality tacitly demanded by his casual manner of greet- 
ing, PROVIDED he showed himself worthy. It was not until the other had 
displayed his ignorance of Zen that the Master decided upon a reproof 
in public. The antelope, of course, symbolizes the One Mind which, 
being utterly devoid of attributes, ‘leaves no tracks\ A dead antdope 
would imply a state of extinction. 

2 P‘ei Hsiu. 

* Silence indicating that the man was neither anywhere nor nowhere; 
the first, because his real ‘Self’ was no special entity; the second, because 
his ephemeral ‘self’ undoubtedly occupied a point in space. 

* This profound reply has a double meaning — ‘one’ in the sense of 
Huang Po, and ‘One’l 



‘P^ei Hsiu!’ cried the Master. 

‘Sirr I answered respectfully. 

‘Where are you?’ 

Realizing that no reply was possible to such a question, 
I hastened to ask our Master to re-enter the hall and 
continue his sermon. 

# sic He 

35.^ When the Master had taken his place in the assembly 
hall, he began: 

‘You people are just like drunkards. I don’t know how 
you manage to keep on your feet in such a sodden con- 
dition. Why, everyone will die of laughing at you. It all 
seems so easy, so why do we have to live to see a day like 
this? Can’t you understand that in the whole Empire of 
T‘ang^ there are no “teachers skilled in Zen”?’ 

At this point, one of the monks present asked: ‘How can 
you say that? At this very moment, as all can see, we are 
sitting face to face with one who has appeared in the world^ 
to be a teacher of monks and a leader of men!’ 

‘Please note that I did not say there is no zen,’ answered 
our Master. ‘I merely pointed out that there are no 

Later, Wei Shan reported this conversation to Yang 
Shan and asked wKat it implied. 

Said Yang Shan: ‘That swan is able to extract the pure 
milk from the adulterated mixture. It is very clear that he^ 
is not just an ordinary duck!’ 

^ A continuation of 34. 

* China. 

* A phrase normally used of Buddhas. 

* Huang Po. 



‘Ah/ responded the other. ‘Yes, the point he made was 
very subtle.’^ 



36. One day I brought a statue of the Buddha and, 
kneeling respectfully before our Master, begged him to 
bestow upon me a sacred honorific. 

T‘ei Hsiu!’ he cried. 

‘Yes, Master?’ 

‘How is it that you still concern yourself with names?’ 

All I could do was to prostrate myself in silence. 

And there was another time when I offered our Master 
a poem I had written. He took it in his hands, but soon sat 
down and pushed it away. ‘Do you understand?’ he asked. 

‘No, Master.’ 

‘But WHY don’t you understand? Think a little! If things 
could be expressed like this with ink and paper, what 
would be the purpose of a sect like ours?’ 

My poem ran as follows:- 

When his Master bequeathed him Mind-Intuition, 
He of great height with a pearl on his forehead 
Dwelt for ten years by the river in Szech‘uan. 

Now, like a chalice borne by the waters, 

1 The implications of this anecdote are manifold. Huang Po*s final 
remark implies among other things the impossibility of teachino Zen, 
which can only be properly apprehended through intuitive understand- 
ing arising from within ourselves. Another implication, harking back to 
the silence of the monastery administrator, is that the existence of 
INDIVIDUALS,^ Zen Masters or otherwise, is of a purely transitory order. 
Absorption in Zen leads to an experience of unity in which ‘one* and 
‘other* are no longer valid. The One is neither a Zen Master nor anything 



He has come to rest on the banks of the Chang. 

A thousand disciples follow behind him 

With dragon-mien glorious, bearing the fragrance 

Of flowers from afar. These are aspirant Buddhas, 

Yet desiring to serve him humbly as pupils. 

Who knows upon which the Transmission will fall? 

Our Master later replied with another poem: 

Mind is a mighty ocean, a sea which knows no bounds. 

Words arc but scarlet lotus to cure the lesser ills. 

Though there be times of leisure when my hands both lie at 

*Tis not to welcome idlers that I raise them to my breast!^ 

4e J|t ♦ 

37. Our Master said: Those who desire progress along 
the Way naust first cast out the dross acquired through 
heterogeneous learning. Above all, they must avoid seeking 
for anything objective or permitting themselves any sort 
of attachment. Having listened to the profoundest doctrines, 
they must behave as though a light breeze had caressed 
their ears, a gust had passed away in the blink of an eye. 
By no means may they attempt to follow such doctrines. To 
act in accordance with these injunctions is to achieve pro- 
fundity. The motionless contemplation of the Tathagatas 
implies the Zen-mindedness of one who has left the round 
of birth and death forever. From the days when Bodhi- 
dharma first transmitted naught but the One Mind, there 

^ Huang Po*s poem implies that the Transmission can fall only upon 
one who has received intuitive experience leading to a direct perception 
of the One Mind. Mere intellectual brilliance will avail nothing. Hence, 
to ^ose who idle away their time in metaphysical or intellectual dis- 
cussions, the Master will make no sign. 



has been no other valid Dharma. Pointing to the identity 
of Mind and the Buddha,^ he demonstrated how the highest 
forms of Enlightenment could be transcended. Assuredly 
he left no other thought but this. If you wish to enter by 
the gate of our sect, this must be your only Dharma. 

If you expect to gain anything from teachers of other 
doctrines, what is your purpose in coming here? So it is said 
that if you have the merest intention to indulge in concep- 
tual thinking, behold, your very intention will place you 
in the clutch of demons. Similarly, a conscious lack of such 
intention, or even a consciousness that you do not have 
NO such intention, will be sulEcient to deliver you into the 
demons’ power. But they will not be demons from outside; 
they will be the self-creations of your own mind. The only 
reality is that ‘Bodhisattva’ whose existence is totally un- 
manifested even in a spiritual sense — ^the Trackless One. 
If ever you should allow yourselves to believe in the more 
than purely transitory existence of phenomena, you will 
have fallen into a grave error known as the heretical belief 
in eternal life; but if, on the contrary, you take the intrinsic 
voidness of phenomena to imply mere emptiness, then you 
will have fallen into another error, the heresy of total 

Thus, 'the Triple World is only Mind; the myriad pheno- 
mena are only consciousness’ is the sort of thing taught to 
people who previously maintained even falser views and 
suffered from even graver errors of perception.^ Similarly, 

^ Absolute. 

® Since we are compounded, in truth, wholely of eternal Mind, the 
notion of a permanent individual soul and that of total extinction arc 
equally false. 

® In Huang Po’s time there was a sect called the Wei Shih Tsung 
which held that, though nothing exists outside consciousness, the latter 
is in some sense a substance and therefore ‘real*. 



the doctrine that the Dharmakaya^ is something attained 
only after reaching full Enlightenment was merely intended 
as a means of converting the Theravadin saints from graver 
errors. Finding these mistaken views prevalent, Gautama 
Buddha refuted two sorts of misunderstanding — ^the notions 
that Enlightenment will lead to the perception of a uni- 
versal substance, composed of particles which some hold 
to be gross and others subtle.^ 

How is it possible that Gautama Buddha, who denied 
all such views as those I have mentioned, could have 
originated the present conceptions of Enlightenment? But, 
as these doctrines arc still commonly taught, people be- 
come involved in the duality of longing for ‘light’ and 
eschewing ‘darkness’. In their anxiety to seek Enlighten- 
ment on the one hand and to escape from the passions and 
ignorance of corporeal existence on the other, they con- 
ceive of an Enlightened Buddha and unenlightened 
sentient beings as separate entities. Continued indulgence 
in such dualistic concepts as these will lead to your rebirth 
among the six orders of beings, life after life, aeon upon 
aeon, forever and forever! And why is it thus? Because of 
falsifying the doctrine that the original source of the 
Buddhas is that self-existent Nature. Let me assure you 
again that the Buddha dwells not in light, nor sentient 
beings in darkness, for the Truth allows no such distinctions. 
The Buddha is not mighty, nor sentient beings feeble, for 
the Truth allows no such distinctions. The Buddha is not 

1 The body of the Absolute. 

® Tlicse views, which the Buddha is said to have reftited, would seem 
to be similar to the new scientific theory that the stuff of the universe is 
mind-stuff. This theory bears a certain superficial resemblance to Huang 
Po*s doctrine; yet, though it is doubtless an advance on the materialistic 
conception of the last century, it stops far short of the truth as under- 
stood in Zen. 



Enlightened, nor sentient beings ignorant, for the Truth 
allows no such distinctions. It is all because you take it upon 
yourself to talk of explaining Zen! 

As soon as the mouth is opened, evils spring forth. 
People either neglect the root and speak of the branches, 
or neglect the reality of the ‘illusory’ world and speak only 
of Enlightenment. Or else they chatter of cosmic activities 
leading to transformations, while neglecting the Substance 
from which they spring — ^indeed, there is never any profit 
in discussion. 

Once more, all phenomena are basically without exist- 
ence, though you cannot now say that they are non- 
existent. Karma having arisen does not thereby exist; 
karma destroyed does not thereby cease to exist. Even its 
root does not exist, for that root is no root. Moreover, Mind 
is not Mind, for whatever that term connotes is far from the 
reality it symbolizes. Form, too, is not really form. So if I 
now state that there are no phenomena and no Original 
Mind, you will begin to understand something of the in- 
tuitive Dharma silently conveyed to Mind with Mind. 
Since phenomena and no-phenomena are one, there is 
neither phenomena nor no-phenomena, and the only 
possible transmission is to Mind with Mind. 

When a sudden flash of thought occurs in your mind and 
you recognize it for a dream or an illusion, then you can 
enter into the state reached by the Buddhas of the past — ^ 
not that the Buddhas of the past really exist, or that the 
Buddhas of the future have not yet come into existence. 
Above all, have no longing to become a future Buddha; 
your sole concern should be, as thought succeeds thought, 
to avoid clinging to any of them. Nor may you entertain 
the least ambition to be a Buddha here and now. Even if 



a Buddha arises, do not think of him as ‘Enlightened* or 
‘deluded’, ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Hasten to rid yourself of any 
desire to cling to him. Gut him oflf in the twinkling of an 
eye! On no account seek to hold him fast, for a thousand 
locks could not stay him, nor a hundred thousand feet of 
rope bind him. This being so, valiantly strive to banish 
and annihilate him. 

I will now make luminously clear how to set about being 
rid of that Buddha. Consider the sunlight. You may say it 
is near, yet if you follow it from world to world you will 
never catch it in your hands. Then you may describe it as 
far away and, lo, you will see it just before your eyes. 
Follow it and, behold, it escapes you; run from it and it 
follows you close. You can neither possess it nor have done 
with it. From this example you can understand how it is 
with the true Nature of all things and, henceforth, there 
will be no need to grieve or to worry about such things. 

Now, beware of going on to say that my recommendation 
to cut off the Buddha was profane, or that my comparing 
him to the sunshine was pious, as though I had wavered 
from the one extreme to the other! Followers of the other 
sects would then agree with you, but our Zen Sect will not 
admit either the profanity of the first nor the pious quality 
of the second. Nor do we regard the first as Buddha-like, 
or the second as something to be expected only from 
ignorant sentient beings.^ 

Thus all the visible universe is the Buddha; so are all 

^The whole of this ■- ^ '/.-arning against one of the most 

difficult types of dualisr .i IV..,' ■'■.''•i to avoid — the dualism involved 
in conceiving of the Buddha or Nirvana as separate from ourselves and 
saihsara. An attempt to blot out the Buddha is no more impious than 
the attempt to murder a stone image, since both are impervious to such 



sounds; hold fast to one principle and all the others are 
Identical. On seeing one thing, you see all. On perceiving 
any individual’s mind, you are perceiving all Mind. 
Obtain a glimpse of one way and all ways are embraced 
in your vision, for there is nowhere at all which is devoid of 
the Way. When your glance falls upon a grain of dust, 
what you see is identical with all the vast world-systems 
with their great rivers and mighty hills. To gaze upon a 
drop of water is to behold the nature of all the waters of 
the universe. Moreover, in thus contemplating the totality 
of phenomena, you are contemplating the totality of Mind. 
All these phenomena are intrinsically void and yet this 
Mind with which they are identical is no mere nothingness. 
By this I mean that it does exist, but in a way too mar- 
vellous for us to comprehend. It is an existence which is no 
existence, a non-existence which is nevertheless existence. 
So this true Void does in some marvellous way ^exist’.^ 

According to what has been said, we can encompass all 
the vast world-systems, though numberless as grains of 
sand, with our One Mind. Then, why talk of ‘inside’ and 
‘outside’? Honey having the invariable characteristic of 
sweetness, it follows that all honey is sweet. To speak of 
this honey as sweet and that honey as bitter would be 
nonsensical! How could it be so? Hence we say that the 
Void has no inside and outside. There is only the spon- 
taneously existing Bhutatathata {Absolute), And, for this 
same reason, we say it has no centre. There is only the 
spontaneously existing Bhutatathata. 

Thus, sentient beings are the Buddha. The Buddha is 
one with them. Both consist entirely of the one ‘substance’. 

1 This passage emphasizes the perfect identity of Nirvana’s matchless 
calm with the restless flux of the phenomenal universe. 



The phenomenal universe and Nirvana, activity and 
motionless placidity — ^all are of the one ‘substance’. So 
also are the worlds and with the state that transcends 
worlds. Yes, the beings passing through the six stages of 
existence, those who have undergone the four kinds of 
birth, all the vast world-systems with their mountains and 
river, the Bodhi-Nature and illusion — ^all of them are 
thus. By saying that they are all of one substance, we mean 
that their names and forms, their existence and non- 
existence, are void. The great world-systems, uncountable 
as Ganga’s sands, arc in truth comprised in the one bound- 
less void. Then where can there be Buddhas who deliver 
or sentient beings to be delivered? When the true nature 
of all things that ‘exist’ is an identical Thusness, how can 
SUCH distinctions have any reality? 

If you suppose that phenomena arise of themselves, you 
will fall into the heresy of regarding things as having a 
spontaneous existence of their own. On the other hand, if 
you accept the doctrine of anatman, the concept ‘anatman’ 
may land you among the Theravadins.^ 

1 The doctrine of anatman has always been the centre of Buddhist 
controversy. There is no doubt that Gautama Buddha made it one of 
the central points of his teaching, but the interpretations of it are 
various. The Theravadins interpret it not only as ‘no self*, but also as 
‘no Self*, thereby denying man both an ego and all participation in 
something of the nature of Universal Spirit or the One Mind. The 
MahaySnists accept the interpretation of ‘egolcssness*, holding that the 
real ‘Self* is none other than that indescribable ‘non-entity*, the One 
Mind; something far less of an ‘entity* than the Atman of the Brahmins. 
Goomaraswamy, for example, interprets the famous precept ‘Take the 
self as your only refuge* not by the Theravadin ‘Place no reliance upon 
intermediaries*, but by ‘Take only the Self as your refuge*, the ‘Self* 
meaning the same as the One Mind. If the Theravadins are right with 
their ‘No ego and no Self*, what is it that reincarnates and finally enters 
Nirvai^a? And why do th(^ take such pains to store up merit for future 
lives? For if the temporarily adhering aggregates of personality are not 
held together either by an ego-soul or by a Universal Self or the One 



You people seek to measure all within the void, foot 
by foot and inch by inch, I repeat to you that ail pheno- 
mena are devoid of distinctions of form. Intrinsically they 
belong to that perfect tranquillity which lies beyond the 
transitory sphere of form-producing activities, so all of them 
are coexistent with space and one with reality. Since no 
bodies possess real form, we speak of phenomena as void; 
and, since Mind is formless, we speak of the nature of all 
things as void. Both are formless and both are termed void. 
Moreover, none of the numerous doctrines has any exist- 
ence outside your original Mind. All this talk of Bodhi, 
Nirvana, the Absolute, the Buddha-Nature, Mahayana, 
Theravada, Bodhisattvas and so on is like taking autumn 
leaves for gold. To use the symbol of the closed fist: when 
it is opened, all beings — ^both gods and men — ^will perceive 
there is not a single thing inside. Therefore is it written: 

There’s never been a single thing; 

Then where’s defiling dust to cling? ^ 

If ‘there’s never been a single thing’, past, present and 
future are meaningless. So those who seek the Way must 

Mind, whatever enters Nirvana when those aggregates have finally dis- 
persed can be of no interest to the man who devotes successive lives to 
attaining that goal. It is also difficult to understand how Buddhism 
could have swept like a flame across Asia if, at the time of its vast ex- 
pansion, it had only the cold comfort of the present Theravadin inter- 
pretation of anAtman to offer those in search of a religion by which to 
live. Zen adepts, like their fellow MahSyanists, take anAtman to imply 
‘no entity to be termed an ego, naught but the One Mind, which 
comprises all things and gives diem their only reality.’ 

^ It is recorded in the Sfltra of Hui N6ng, or Wei Lang, that a certain 
monk likened Mind to a mirror which must be cleansed of the defile- 
ments of delusion and passion, thereby involving himself in a duality 
between the transitory and the real. The two lines just quoted are from 
Hui Nang’s reply, in which the duality is confuted. 



enter it with the suddenness of a knife-thrust. Full under- 
standing of this must come before they can enter. Hence, 
though Bodhidharma traversed many countries on his way 
from India to China, he encountered only one man, the 
Venerable Ko, to whom he could silently transmit the 
Mind-Seal, the Seal of your own real Mind. Phenomena 
are the Seal of Mind, just as the latter is the Seal of pheno- 
mena. Whatever Mind is, so also are phenomena — both 
are equally real and partake equally of the Dharma- 
Nature, which hangs in the void- He who receives an in- 
tuition of this truth has become a Buddha and attained to 
the Dharma. Let me repeat that Enlightenment cannot 
be bodily grasped {attained perceived^ etc,)) for the body is 
formless; nor mentally grasped {etc.)) for the mind is form- 
less; nor grasped {etc.)y through its essential nature, since 
that nature is the Original Source of aU things, the real 
Nature of all things, permanent Reality, of Buddha! How 
can you use the Buddha to grasp the Buddha, formlessness 
to grasp formlessness, mind to grasp mind, void to grasp 
void, the Way to grasp the Way? In reality, there is nothing 
to be grasped {perceived) attained) conceived) etc ,) — even 
not-grasping cannot be grasped. So it is said: ‘There is 
NOTHING to be grasped.’ We simply teach you how to under- 
stand your original Mind. 

Moreover, when the moment of understanding comes, 
do not think in terms of understanding, not understanding 
or not not-understanding, for none of these is something to 
be grasped. This Dharma of Thusness when ‘grasped’ is 
‘grasped’, but he who ‘grasps’ it is no more conscious of 
having done so than someone ignorant of it is conscious of 
his failure. Ah, this Dharma of Thusness — ^until now so few 
people have come to understand it that it is written: Tn 



this world, how few are they who lose their egosT As for 
those people who seek to grasp it through the application 
of some particular principle or by creating a special en- 
vironment, or through some scripture, or doctrine, or age, 
or time, or name, or word, or through their six senses — 
how do they differ from wooden dolls? But if, unexpectedly, 
one man were to appear, one who formed no concept based 
on any name or form, I assure you that this man might be 
sought through world after world, always in vain! His 
uniqueness would assure him of succeeding to the 
Patriarch’s place and earn for him the name of Sakya- 
muni’s true spiritual son: the conflicting aggregates of his 
ego-self would have vanished, and he would indeed be the 
One! Therefore is it written: ‘When the King attains to 
Buddhahood, the princes accordingly leave their home to 
become monks. Hard is the meaning of this saying! It is 
to teach you to refrain from seeking Buddhahood, since 
any search is doomed to failure. Some madman shrieking 
on the mountain-top, on hearing the echo far below, may 
go to seek it in the valley. But, oh, how vain his search! 
Once in the valley, he shrieks again and straightway climbs 
to search among the peaks — ^why, he may spend a thousand 
rebirths or ten thousand aeons searching for the source of 
those sounds by following their echoes! How vainly will he 
breast the troubled waters of life and death! Far better 
that you make no sound, for then will there be no echo — 
and thus it is with the dwellers in Nirvana! No listening, 
no knowing, no sound, no track, no trace — make yourselves 
thus and you will be scarcely less than neighbours of 

♦ * ♦ 



38. Q,: Pray instruct me concerning the passage in the 
sutras denying the existence of a Sword of Thusness in the 
Royal Treasury.^ 

A: The Royal Treasury is the nature of the Void. 
Though all the vast world-systems of the universe are con- 
tained therein, none of them have existence outside your 
Mind. Another name for it is the Bodhisattva Treasury of 
the Great Void. If you speak of it as existing or not existing, 
or as neither the one nor the other, in every case it becomes 
a mere ram’s horn!^ It is a ram’s horn in the sense that you 
have made it an object of your useless search. 

3)C He ♦ 

39. Q,: But is there not a Sword of Truth within the Royal 

A: Another ram’s horn! 

Q: Yet if there is no Sword of Truth why is it written: 
‘The Prince seized the Sword of Truth from the Royal 
Treasury and set out upon his conquests’? Why do you tell 
us nothing of it beyond denying its objective existence? 

A: The prince who took the sword connotes a true 
spiritual son of the Tathagata; but, if you say that he 
carried it off, you imply that he deprived the Treasury of 
something. What nonsense it is to speak of carrying off a 
piece of that Void Nature which is the Source of all things! 
It would appear that, if you have got hold of anything at 
all, it may be called a collection of ranas’ horns! 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

1 The Sword of Thusness is a means to Enlightenment; the Royal 
Treasury is the Bhutatathata— the Absolute regarded as the Source of 
all things. 

* Rams* horns symbolize passions and delusions. 



40. Q,: When Kasyapa received the seal of Buddhahood 
from Gautama Buddha, did he make use of words during 
its further transmission? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Then, since he attempted its transmission in words, 
even he should be included among the people with rams’ 

A: Kasyapa obtained a direct self-realization of original 
Mind, so he is not one of those with horns. Whosoever 
obtains this direct realization of the Tathagata Mind, 
thereby understanding the true identity of the Tathagata 
and perceiving his real appearance and real form, can 
speak to others with the authority of the Buddha’s true 
spiritual son. But Ananda,^ though he served his Master 
for twenty years, was unable to perceive more than his out- 
ward appearance and form, and was therefore admonished 
by the Buddha in these words: ‘Those who concentrate 
entirely upon helping the world cannot escape from among 
the homed ones.’^ 

♦ JK ♦ 

41. Q,: What is the meaning of the passage: ‘MahjuM 
stood before Gautama with a drawn sword’? 

A: The ‘Five Hundred Bodhisattvas’ attained knowledge 

^ Gautama Buddha’s most loving disciple, whose compassion excelled 
his wisdom. 

® This quotation is certainly not intended to belittle Ananda’s com- 
passion, but to indicate that even the most selfless devotion to others is 
not an actual means to gain deliverance. If deliverance could be attained 
merely as a result of good works, Ananda would have earned it many 
times over. In some Buddhist sects, the chief emphasis is placed on works 
of piety and charity; in Zen, nobility of heart and deed are prerequisites 
for followers of the Path, but they do not form part of the Path to 
Liberation itself. 

1 14 


of their previous lives and discovered how their previous 
karma had been constructed. This a fable in which the 
‘Five Hundred’ really refers to your five senses. On account 
of their knowledge of their previous karma, they sought 
the Buddha, Bodhisattvahood and Nirvana objectively.^ 
It was for this reason that ManjuiSri took up the Sword of 
Bodhi and used it to destroy the concept of a tangible 
Buddha;^ and it is for this that he is known as the destroyer 
of human virtues! 

Qj What does the Sword really signify? 

A: It signifies the apprehension of Mind. 

Q,: So the Sword used to destroy the concept of a 
tangible Buddha^ is the apprehension of Mind. Well, then, 
if we are able to put an end to such concepts by this means, 
how is their destruction actually accomplished? 

A: You must use that wisdom which comes from non- 
dualism to destroy your concept-forming, dualistic 

Q^: Assuming that the concepts of something perceptible 
and of Enlightenment as something to be sought can be 
destroyed by drawing the Sword of Non-Discriminatory 
Wisdom, where precisely is such a sword to be found? 

A: Since non-discriminatory wisdom is the destroyer 
both of perception and of its opposite, it must also belong 
to the Non-perceptible.^ 

Q,: Knowledge cannot be used to destroy knowledge, 
nor a sword to destroy a sword.® 

1 Forming sense-based concepts. 

® Absolute. 

® Absolute. 

* Non-attainable, non-graspable, etc. Hence the question is pointless. 

* The questioner seems to have coined a paradox of the kind Huang 
Po was fond of using, perhaps as an indication of some fancied advance- 
ment towards the truth. 



A: Sword does destroy sword — they destroy each other 
— and the no sword remains for you to grasp. Knowledge 
DOES destroy knowledge — ^this knowledge invalidates that 
knowledge — and then no knowledge remains for you to 
grasp. It is as though mother and son perished together.^ 

* ♦ 

42. Q: What is implied by ‘seeing into the real Nature’? 

A: That Nature and your perception of it are one. You 
cannot use it to see something over and above itself. That 
Nature and your hearing of it are one* You cannot use it 
to hear something over and above itself. If you form a con- 
cept of the true nature of anything as being visible or 
audible, you allow a dharma of distinction to arise. Let me 
repeat that the perceived cannot perceive. Can there, I 
ask you, be a head attached to the crown of your head? I 
will give you an example to make my meaning clearer. 
Imagine some loose pearls in a bowl, some large globules 
and some small. Each one is completely unaware of the 
others and none causes the least obstruction to the rest. 
During their formation, they did not say: ‘Now I am 
coming into being’: and when they begin to decay, they 
will not say: ‘Now I am decaying.’ None of the beings born 
into the six forms of life through the four kinds of birth are 
exceptions to this rule. Buddhas and sentient creatures 
have no mutual perception of each other. The four grades 
of Theravadin adepts who are able to enter Nirvana do 
not perceive, nor are they perceived by Nirvana. Those 

^ This passage is especially profound. Transcendental knowledge in- 
validates relative knowledge, but the former is then found to be no 
knowledge in the ordinary sense, for knower and known are seen to be 



Theravadins who have reached the ‘three stages of holiness’ 
and who possess the ‘ten excellent characteristics’ neither 
perceive nor are perceived by Enlightenment. So it is with 
everything else, down to fire and water, or earth and sky. 
These pairs of elements have no mutual perception of each 
other. Sentient beings do not enter the Dharmadhatu,^ 
nor do the Buddhas issue from it. There is no coming and 
going within the Dharmata,® nor anything perceptible 
{etc,). This being so, why this talk of T see’, T hear’, T 
receive an intuition through Enlightenment’, T hear the 
Dharma from the lips of an Enlightened One’, or of 
‘Buddhas appearing in the world to preach the Dharma’? 
Katyayana was rebuked by Vimalakirti^ for using that 
transitory mentality which belongs to the ephemeral state 
to transmit the doctrine of the real existence of matter. 

I assure you that all things have been free from bondage 
since the very beginning.* So why attempt to explain 
them? Why attempt to purify what has never been defiled?® 
Therefore it is written: ‘The Absolute is thusness — ^how 
can it be discussed? You people still conceive of Mind as 
existing or not existing, as pure or defiled, as something to 
be studied in the way that one studies a piece of categorical 
knowledge, or as a concept — any of these definitions is 
suflBicient to throw you back into the endless round of birth 
and death. The man who perceives things always wants 
to identify them, to get a hold on them. Those who use 
their minds like eyes in this way are sure to suppose that 

^ Absolute. 

* Nature of the Absolute. 

* Gh‘ing Ming. 

I.e. they have never really lost their identity with the Absolute. 

® The then still existent Northern School of Zen taught purification 
of the mind, but Hui N6ng, followed here by Huang Po, regarded this 
injunction as implying a dualism of pure and impure. 



progress is a matter of stages. If you are that kind of person^ 
you are as far from the truth as earth is far from heaven. 
Why this talk of ‘seeing into your own nature’? 

sK 9)C ♦ 

43, Q: You say that our original nature and the act of 
seeing into it are one and the same. This can only be so if 
that nature is totally undifferentiated. Pray explain how it 
is that, even allowing that there are no real objects for us 
to perceive, nevertheless we do in fact see what is near to 
us and are unable to see what is far away. 

A: This is due to a misunderstanding arising from your 
own delusions. You cannot argue that the Universal Nature 
does in fact contain real objects on the grounds that ‘no 
real objects to be perceived’ would only be true if there 
were nothing of the kind we gall perceptible. The nature 
of the Absolute is neither perceptible nor imperceptible; 
and with phenomena it is just the same. But to one who has 
discovered his real nature, how can there be anywhere or 
anything separate from it? Thus, the six forms of life 
arising from the four kinds of birth, together with the great 
world-systems of the universe with their rivers and moun- 
tains, are all of one pure substance with our own nature. 
Therefore is it said: ‘The perception of a phenomenon is 
the perception of the Universal Nature, since phenomena 
and Mind are one and the same.’ It is only because you 
cling to outward forms that you come to ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘feel’ 
and ‘know’ things as individual entities. True perception 
is beyond your powers so long as you indulge in these.^ 

^ In this passage it is argued that, though individual entities do exist 
m a certain superficial sense, they never lose their fundamental oneness. 



By such means you will fall among the followers of the 
usual Mahayana and Theravadin doctrines who rely upon 
deep PERCEPTION to arrive at a true understanding. There- 
fore they see what is near and fail to see what is far away, 
but no one on the right path thinks thus. I assure you there 
is no ‘inner’ or ‘outer’, or ‘near’ or Tar’. The fundamental 
nature of all phenomena is close beside you, but you do 
not SEE even that; yet you still go on talking of your in- 
ability to see what is far away. What meaning can this sort 
of talk possibly have? 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

44. Q,: What guidance does Your Reverence offer to 
those of us who find all this very difficult to understand? 

A: I have NO thing to offer. I have never had anything 
to offer others. It is because you allow certain people to 
lead you astray that you are forever seeking intuition 
and SEARCHING for understanding. Isn’t this a case of 
disciples and teachers all falling into the same insoluble 
muddle? AU you need to remember are the following 







A single moment’s dualistic thought is sufficient to drag 
you back to the twelvefold chain of causation.^ It is ignor- 
ance which turns the wheel of causation, thereby creating 
an endless chain of karmic causes and results. This is the 
law which governs our whole lives up to the time of senility 
and death. ^ 

In this connection, we are told that Sudhana, after 
vainly seeking Bodhi in a hundred and ten places within 
the twelvefold causal sphere, at last encountered Maitreya 
who sent him to MahjuM. Mafijuiri here represents your 
primordial ignorance of reality. If, as thought succeeds 
thought, you go on seeking for wisdom outside yourselves, 
then there is a continual process of thoughts arising, dying 
away and being succeeded by others. And that is why all 
. you monks go on experiencing birth, old age, sickness and 
death — ^building up karma which produces corresponding 
effects. For such is the arising and passing away of the ‘five 
bubbles’ or, in other words, the five skandhas. Ah, could 
you but restrain each single thought from arising, then 
would the Eighteen Sense Realms^ be made to vanish! How 
godlike, then, your bodily rewards and how exalted the 

^ These are four of the five skandhas or components of sentient being, 
namely: rupa — ^form; vedana — reception of sensation; samjria—disccm- 
ment; saihskara — discrimination; and vijnSna — cognition. 

® The twelve links are: ignorance; consequent entrance into the womb; 
consciousness; rebirth; development of the sense organs; contact with 
external phenomena; the resulting sensations; the craving for pleasure 
to which these give rise, the amassing of pleasure-giving objects, money, 
property and so on; the growth of further karma; rebirth; and fresh 
experience of the sorrows of decay and death. 

® Free will is not denied here, for its proper employment can snap the 
causal chain — a principle accepted by Buddhists of all sects. 

* The six sense organs, including the brain, together with their six 
objects and six types of sensation. 



knowledge that would dawn within your minds! A mind 
like that could be called the Terrace of the Spirit. But while 
you remain lost in attachments, you condemn your bodies 
to be corpses or, as it is sometimes expressed, to be lifeless 
corpses inhabited by demons! 

♦ ♦ jk 

45. Q,: ‘Vimalakirti dwells in silence. MahjuSri offers 
praise.’ How can they have really entered the Gateway of 

A: The Gateway of Non-Duality is your original Mind. 
Speech and silence are relative concepts belonging to the 
ephemeral sphere. When nothing is said, nothing is mani- 
fested.^ That is why Mahju^ri offered praise. 

Q^: Vimalakirti did not speak. Does this imply that 
sound is subject to cessation? ^ 

A: Speech and silence are one! There is no distinction 
between them. Therefore is it written: 'Neither the true 
nature nor the root of Mahju^ri’s hearing are subject to 
cessation.’ Thus, the sound of the Tathagata’s voice is ever- 
lasting, nor can there be any such reality as the time before 
he began to preach or the time after he finished preaching. 
The preaching of the Tathagata is identical with the 
Dharma he taught, for there is no distinction between the 
preaching and the thing preached; just as there is none 
between such varied phenomena as the Glorified and 
Revealed Bodies of a Buddha, the Bodhisattvas, the 
Sravakas, the world-systems with their mountains and 
rivers, or water, birds, trees, forests and the rest. The 

1 Cf. St. John: ‘In the beginning was the woius.’ 

* Iliis seems to mean: Is sound purely saihsaric? But I am puzzled. 




preaching of the Dharma is at one and the same time both 
vocal and silent. Though one talks the day long, no word 
is spoken. This being so, only silence belongs to the 

* ♦ ♦ 

46. Q,: Is it true that the Sravakas^ can only merge their 
forms into the formless sphere which still belongs to the 
transitory Triple World, and that they are incapable of 
losing themselves utterly in Bodhi? 

A: Yes. Form implies matter. Those saints are only 
proficient in casting off worldly views and activities, by 
which means they escape from worldly delusions and 
afflictions. They cannot lose themselves utterly in Bodhi; 
thus, there is still the danger that demons may come and 
pluck them from within the orbit of Bodhi itself. Aloofly 
seated in their forest dwellings, they perceive the Bodhi- 
Mind but vaguely. Whereas those who are vowed to 
become Bodhisattvas and who are already within the 
Bodhi of the Three Worlds, neither reject nor grasp at 
anything. Non-grasping, it were vain to seek them upon 
any plane; non-rejecting, demons will strive in vain to find 

Nevertheless, with the merest desire to attach yourselves 
to this or that, a mental symbol is soon formed, such 
symbols in turn giving rise to all those ‘sacred writings’ 
which lead you back to undergo the various kinds of re- 
birth, So let your symbolic conception be that of a void, 
for then the wordless teaching of Zen will make itself 
apparent to you. Know only that you must decide to 

1 Theravadin saints who do not accept the doctrine of void, but follow 
the literal meaning of the sutras. 



eschew all symbolizing whatever, for by this eschewal is 
‘symbolized’ the Great Void in which there is neither 
unity nor multiplicity — that Void which is not really void, 
that Symbol which is no symbol. Then will the Buddhas 
of all the vast world-systems manifest themselves to you in 
a flash; you will recognize the hosts of squirming, wriggling 
sentient beings as no more than shadows! Continents as 
innumerable as grains of dust will seem no more to you 
than a single drop in the great ocean. To you, the pro- 
foundest doctrines ever heard will seem but dreams and 
illusions. You will recognize all minds as One and behold 
all things as One — including those thousands of sacred 
books and myriads of pious commentaries! All of them are 
just your One Mind. Gould you but cease your groping 
after forms, all these true perceptions would be yours! 
Therefore is it written: ‘Within the Thusness of the One 
Mind, the various means to Enlightenment are no more 
than showy ornaments.’ 

* j|< ♦ 

47. Qj But what if in previous lives I have behaved like 
Kaliraja, slicing the limbs from living men? 

A: The holy sages tortured by him represent your own 
Mind, while Kaliraja symbolizes that part of you which 
goes out SEEKING. Such unkingly behaviour is called lust 
for personal advantage. If you students of the Way, with- 
out making any attempt to live virtuously, just want to 
make a study of everything you perceive, then how are 
you different from him?^ By allowing your gaze to linger 

^ This passage is sufficient answer to those critics of Zen who affiirn 
that Zen disregards the necessity for virtuous living. It does not dis- 
regard it at all, but docs deny that Enlightenment may be gained by it — 
whidi is quite a different thing. 



on a form, you wrench out the eyes of a sage {yourself). And 
when you linger upon a sound, you slice off the ears of a 
sage — ^thus it is with all your senses and with cognition, for 
their varied perceptions are called slicers. 

Q^: When we meet all suffering with sagelike patience 
and avoid all mind-slicing perceptions, that which suffers 
with resignation surely cannot be the One Mind, for that 
cannot be subject to the endurance of pain. 

A: You are one of those people who force the Un- 
becoming into conceptual moulds, such as the concept 
of patient suffering or the concept of seeking nothing 
outside yourself. Thereby you do yourself violence! 

Q: When the holy sages were dismembered, were they 
conscious of pain; and, if among them there were no en- 
tities capable of suffering, who or what did suffer? 

A: If you are not suffering pain now, what is the point 
of chiming in like that?^ 

* * 

48. Q: Did Dipamkara Buddha^ attain his intuition of 
reality within a single five-hundred-year period or not? 

A: There is no attaining it within such a period. You 
must never forget that this so-called ‘attaining’ of intuition 
implies neither a withdrawal from daily life nor a search 
for Enlightenment. You have just to understand that time- 
periods have no real existence; hence the attainment of the 
vital intuition occurs neither within nor without a five- 
hundred-year period. 

^ This curt reply may also mean: *Why join this assembly to study 
Zen-liberation, unless the frustration set up by sarhsaric life is painful 
to you?* 

2 The twenty-fourth predecessor of Gautama Buddha, 



Qji Is it not possible to attain the omniscience in which 
all the events of past, present and future are known to us? 

A: There is absolutely nothing which can be attained. 

Q: How long is a cycle of five hundred yugas? 

A: One such period should be ample for you to become 
a liberated sage. For, when Dipamkara Buddha ‘attained’ 
his intuitive knowledge of the Dharma, there was not really 
a grain of anything attainable. 

♦ ♦ * 

49 * Q.* The sutras teach that the fettering of passions 
and illusions produced during millions of kalpas is a 
sufficient means of obtaining the Dharmakaya, even with- 
out going through the stage of being monks. What does 
this mean? 

A: If you practise means of attaining Enlightenment for 
three myriad aeons but without losing your belief in some- 
thing really attainable, you will still be as many aeons from 
your goal as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. But if, 
by a direct perception of the Dharmakaya’s true nature, 
you grasp it in a flash, you will have reached the highest 
goal taught in the Three Vehicles. Why? Because the belief 
that the Dharmakaya can be obtained belongs to the 
doctrines of those sects which do not understand the 


50. Q,: If on perceiving a phenomenon I gain a sudden 
comprehension of it, is that tantamount to understanding 
Bodhidharma’s meaning? 



A: Bodhidharma’s mind penetrated even beyond the 

Q: Then individual objects no exist? 

A: The existence of things as separate entities and not 
as separate entities are both dualistic concepts. As Bodhi-* 
dharma said: There are separate entities and there are not, 
but at the same time they are neither the one nor the other, 
for relativity is transient.’ If you disciples cannot get beyond 
those incorrect orthodox treachings, v^hy do you call your- 
selves Zen monks? I exhort you to apply yourselves solely 
to Zen and not to go seeking after wrong methods which 
only result in a multiplicity of concepts. A man drinking 
water knows well enough if it is cold or warm. Whether 
you be walking or sitting, you must restrain all discrimina- 
tory thoughts from one moment to the next. If you do not, 
you will never escape the chain of rebirth. 

>|e 3|c 

51. Q,; Ifthe Buddha really dwells in matchless tranquillity 
beyond the multiplicity of forms, how is it that his body 
yielded eighty-four pecks of relics?^ 

A: If you really think like that, you are confusing the 
transitory relics with the real. 

Q: Are there really such things as ^ariras,^ or are they 
the Buddha’s accumulated merits? 

A: There are no such things. They are not merits. 

^ It is not enough to see all things as fleeting shadows. Beyond the void 
is the Great Void, in which flux is and yet is not flux. The moon or a 
tree must first be perceived as void and then, in a new sense, as moon 
or tree. 

® This rather naive questioner is confusing the Buddha as synonymous 
with the Absolute with the historical figure of Gautama. 

® Buddha-relics. 



Q,: Then, why is it written: 'The Buddha-relics are 
ethereal and subtle; the golden ones are indestructible? 
What does Your Reverence say to that? 

A: If you harbour such beliefs, why call yourself a 
student of Zen? Can you imagine bones in the Void? The 
minds of all the Buddhas are one with the Great Void. 
What bones do you expect to find there? 

Qj: But if I had actually seen some of these relics, what 

A: You would have seen the products of your own 

Qj Does Your Reverence have any of those relics? 
Please let us see them. 

A: A true relic would be hard to see! To find it, you 
would have to crush mighty Mount Sumeru to fine dust, 
using only your bare hands! 

)K * * 

52. The Master said: Only when your minds cease 
dwelling upon anything whatsoever will you come to an 
understanding of the true way of Zen. I may express it 
thus — ^the way of the Buddhas flourishes in a mind utterly 
freed from conceptual thought processes, while discrimina- 
tion between this and that gives birth to a legion of demons! 
Finally, remember that from first to last not even the 
smallest grain of anything perceptible^ has ever existed or 
ever will exist. 

* ♦ * 

53. Q: To whom did the Patriarch silently transmit the 

^ Graspable, attainable, tangible, etc. 



A: No Dharma was transmitted to anybody.^ 

Q: Then why did the Second Patriarch ask Bodhi- 
dharma for the transmission of Mind? 

A: If you hold that something was transmitted, you 
imply that the Second Patriarch reached Mind by seeking, 
but no amount of seeking can ever lead to Mind; so we 
TALK of only transmitting Mind to you. If you really get 
something, you will find yourself back on the wheel of life 
and death! 

mt t 

54. Q: Did the Buddha pierce right through the pri- 
mordial darkness of ignorance? 

A: Yes. The primordial darkness is the sphere in which 
every Buddha achieves Enlightenment. Thus, the very 
sphere in which karma arises may be called a Bodhiman- 
dala.^ Every grain of matter, every appearance is one with 
Eternal and Immutable Reality! Wherever your foot may 
fall, you are still within that Sanctuary for Enlightenment, 
though it is nothing perceptible. I assure you that one who 
comprehends the truth of ‘nothing to be attained’ is 
already seated in the sanctuary where he will gain his 

Q,: Is primordial ignorance bright or dark? 

A: It is neither. Both terms are dualistic. Primordial 
ignorance is at once neither bright nor dark; and by ‘the 
non-bright’® is just meant that Original Brightness which 
is above the distinction made between bright and dark. 
Just this one sentence is enough to give most people a 

^ I.e, the Dharma has always existed in our own Mind; it is only the 
realization of this which is lacking. 

® A sanctuary for gaining Enlightenment. 

• Avidya or primordial ignorance. 



headache! That is why we say the world is full of vexations 
arising from the transitory phenomena around us.^ 

Though, like Sariputra, we were all to strain our minds 
trying to discover a means of liberation, that would be no 
way to fathom the wisdom and omniscience by which the 
Buddhas transcend all space. There can be no argument 
about it. Once when Gautama had measured out three 
thousand chiliochosms,^ a Bodhisattva suddenly appeared 
and passed over them in a single stride. Yet even that 
prodigious stride failed to cover the width of one pore of 
Samantabhadra’s skin! Now, what sort of mental attain- 
ments have you that will help you to study the meaning of 

Q^: But if such things are entirely unlearnable, then why 
is it written: 'On returning to our Original Nature, we 
transcend duality; but the relative means form many gates 
to the truth? 

A: We return to our Original Nature beyond duality, 
which in fact is also the real nature of the universe of 
primordial darkness,^ which again is the Buddha-Nature, 
The 'relative means forming many gates^ ^ipplies to 
Sravakas who hold that our universe is subject to becoming 
and cessation, and to Pratyeka Buddhas who, though 
acknowledging the infinity of its past, regard it as subject 
to future destruction; so they all concentrate entirely on 
the means of overcoming it,^ But the real Buddhas perceived 

^ In the Chinese, the sentence reads very much as follows, for the 
word meaning primordial darkness or avidya is itself composed of two 
characters meaning *nof and ‘bright*; ‘Not bright both not bright and 
not dark not bright just is origin^ bright not bright not dark’! Hence 
the remark about a headache. 

* Each containing a myriad worlds. 

« Sariisara — ^this world. 

* As though it were quite a separate entity from the Nirvana which 
they seek. 



that the becoming and destruction of the sentient world 
are both one with eternity,^ In another sense, there is no 
becoming or cessation. To perceive all this is to be truly 
Enlightened. Thus Nirvana and Enlightenment are one. 

When the lotus opened and the universe lay disclosed, 
there arose the duality of Absolute and sentient world; or, 
rather, the Absolute appeared in two aspects which, taken 
together, comprise pure perfection. These aspects are un- 
changing reality and potential form. For sentient beings, 
there are such pairs of opposites as becoming and cessation, 
together with all the others. Therefore, beware of clinging 
to one half of a pair. Those who, in their singleminded 
attempt to reach Buddhahood, detest the sentient world, 
thereby blaspheme all the Buddhas of the universe. The 
Buddhas, on manifesting themselves in the world, seized 
dung-shovels to rid themselves of all such rubbish as books 
containing metaphysics and sophistry. ^ 

My advice to you is to rid yourselves of all your previous 
ideas about studying Mind or perceiving it. When you 
are rid of them, you will no longer lose yourselves amid 
sophistries. Regard the process exactly as you would regard 
the shovelling of dung. 

Yes, my advice is to give up all indulgence in conceptual 
thought and intellectual processes. When such things no 
longer trouble you, you will unfailingly reach Supreme 
Enlightenment. On no account make a distinction between 
the Absolute and the sentient world. As a real student of 
Ts‘ao Hsi Zen,^ you must make no distinctions of any kind. 

^ I.e. they recognize the identity of *a moment’ and ‘forever*. 

® Gautama Buddha seems to have held the same view of meta- 
physics, for he steadily refused to answer metaphysical quesions, re- 
garding them as useless distractions from the work of self-Enlightenment, 

* The subseqt to which Huang Po belonged. 



From the earliest times the Sages^ have taught that a 
minimum of activity is the gateway of their Dharma; so 
let NO activity be the gateway of my Dharma! Such is the 
Gateway of the One Mind, but all who reach this gate fear 
to enter. I do not teach a doctrine of extinction! Few 
understand this, but those who do understand are the only 
ones to become Buddhas. Treasure this gem! 

♦ ★ ♦ 

55. Qj, But how can we prevent ourselves from falling into 
the error of making distinctions between this and that? 

A: By realizing that, though you eat the whole day 
through, no single grain has passed your lips; and that a 
day^s journey has not taken you a single step forward — 
also by uniformly abstaining from such notions as ‘self’ and 
‘other’. DO not permit the events of your daily lives 
TO bind you, but never withdraw yourselves from 
THEM. Only by acting thus can you earn the title of ‘A 
Liberated One’. 

Never allow yourselves to mistake outward appearance 
for reality. Avoid the error of thinking in terms of past, 
present and future. The past has not gone; the present is a 
jflieeting moment; the future is not yet to come. When you 
practise mind-control,^ sit in the proper position, stay 
perfectly tranquil, and do not permit the least movement 
of your minds to disturb you. This alone is what is called 

Ah, be diligent! Be diligent! Of a thousand or ten 

^ Taoist. 

* Zazen or dhyana. 

* From the burden of ever-renewed transitory existence. 



thousand attempting to enter by this Gate, only three or 
perhaps five pass through. If you are heedless of my 
warnings, calamity is sure to follow. Therefore is it written: 

Exert your strength in this life to attain! 

Or else incur long aeons of further gain! 

♦ ♦ 

56. The Master passed away on this mountain during the 
T’ai Chung Reign (a.d. 847-859) of the T'ang Dynasty. 
The Emperor Hslian Tsung bestowed upon him the post- 
humous title of ‘The Zen Master Who Destroys All 
Limitations’. The memorial pagoda is known as ‘The 
Tower of Spacious Karma*. 


Absolute, The, 18, 19, 21, 31, 46, 
56, 67 fn., 69, 83, 84, 87, 93, 95, 
104, 105 fn., 110, 117, 118, 126, 

Amida, 91 fn., 92 fn. 

Amidism, 25 
Ananda, 12, 66, 114 
Anatman, 109 

Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, 72 
Avalokiirivara, 32 
Avidyfi, 7(>, 128 
Being, State of, 34 
Bhisma Raja, 97 
Bhutatathata, 93, 108, 113 fn. 
Blofcld, John, 28 
Blofeld, Meifang, 28 
Bo Tree, 11 

Bodhi, 38, 39, 82, 110, 120, 122 
Bodhi-Mind, 83 
Bodhi-Nature, 109 
Bodhidharma, 12, 13, 14, 42, 44, 58, 
59, 69, 70, 76, 78, 87, 93, 103, 111, 
112, 125, 126, 128 
Bodhisattva of Infinite Extent, 74 
Bodhisattva Treasury of the Great 
Void, 113 

Bodhisattva’s Progress, 33, 34, 46 
Bodhisattvas, 32, 42, 47, 49, 84, 91, 
104, 110, 121, 122, 129 
Body of Bliss, 68 fn. 
Book-knowledge, 56 
Book-learning, 55 

Buddha, 44; what is tlic, 67-8, 78; 

where is die, 80 
Buddha’s Eye of Wisdom, 82 
Buddha Vehicle, 73 
Buddha-Essence, 46, 47 
Buddha-Mind, 37, 69 
Buddha-nature, 7, 35, 42, 73, 83, 
87, 98, 110, 129 
Buddha-rclics, 126 fn., 127 
Buddha-Source, 35 
Buddha-Substance, 84, 91 fn. 
Buddhakaya, 74 

Buddhist Dictionary ^ 28 
Buddhist Society, 9 
Canton, 13 
Celestial fcilliance, 72 
Chariot of the Buddhas, 44 
Chih Kung, 62, 63, 89, 90 
Chinese Buddhists, 14 
Ch'ing Ming, 88, 89, 92, 117 fn, 
Chuang TzO, 15, 55 fn. 

Chung Lin, 8 
City of Illusion, 46, 47 
City of Precious Things, 46-7 
Conceptual thought, 45 
Confucianism, 15 
Coomaraswamy, 109 fn. 
Darkness, 76 

Dharma, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, 42, 43, 
44, 47, 50, 51, 52, 65 fn., 76, 77, 
79, 84, 88, 93, 104, 121, 122, 125, 
127, 128, 131 
Dharma Raja, 56 
Dharma-Nature, 111 
Dharma-practice, 56, 65 
Dharma-principles, 58 
Dharmadhatu, 117 
Dharmakaya, 25, 41, 50, 51 fn., 62, 
64, 67, 69, 105, 125 
Dharmata, 117 
Dhyana, 131 fn. 

Dhyana Sect, 9 

Dhyana-practice, 13, 21-3, 52, 
94 fn. 

Dialogues, 52-4, 57-63, 64-6, 67- 

Diamond Sutra^ 9, 36 fn. 

Dictionary of Buddhist Terms ^ 28 
Dipamkara Buddha, 35, 36 fn., 57, 
83, '124, 125 

Doctrine of Mental Origins, 43 
Doctrine of No-Dharma, 64, 65 
Doctrine of the Mind, 37 
Doctrine of Words, 24 
Eighteen Sense Realms, 120 
Eightfold Path, 14 



Eighth Step, 14 
Eighty Excellencies, 73 
Eighty-Four Deeply Enlightened 
Ones, 95 
Ekhart, 11 

Enlightened Mind, 57, 58 
Enlightenment, 11, 13, 15, 16, 22, 
24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 35 fn., 39, 42, 
43, 45, 62, 64, 68, 69, 81, 88, 93, 
95 fm, 105, 111, 115, 117, 123, 
124, 125, 128, 130 
Environmental phenomena, 45, 48 
Error, 80 

Evans-Wentz, Dr«, 26, 91 
Evil, good and, 34 
Fa Ghien, 8 

Five Hundred Bodliisattvas, 114 
Flux, 126 fn. 

Four Grades of Sainthood, 62, 89 
Four Rewards, 69 
Fukien, 94 

Full Enlightenment, 46 
Gateway of Non-Duality, 

Gateway of the One Mind, 131 
Gateway of the Stillness beyond all 
Activity, 79 

Gautama Buddha, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 
36 fn., 70, 79, 83, 85 fn., 87, 91, 
105, 114, 124, 126, 129, 130 
Glorious Victory, 72 
God, Christian ideas of, 17-18 
Good and evil, 34 
Gradual School, 15 
Great Void, 75, 86 fn., 123, 126 fn., 

Great Way, 70 
Hbarer-Buddhas, 47 
Highest vehicle, 7 
Hinayana, 10, 12 
Hinayana School, 23 
Hinayanists, 14, 39, 44 fn., 47 
Hridaya Sutra, 32 fn. 

Hsi Yiin, 7, 94 fn. 

Hsin, 21 

HsUan Tsung, Emperor, 132 
Hu Shih, Dr., 13 

Huang Po, 10, 11, 15, 16, 20, 21, 23, 
24, 25, 39 fn., 40 fn., 44 fn., 51 fn., 

52 fn., 54 fn., 73 fn., 76 fn., 80 fn., 
82 fn., 95, 97 fn., 98, 99 fn., 
100 fn., 105 fn. 

Huang Po CUuan Hsin Fa Too, 9 
Huang Po Doctrine of Universal Mind. 
The, 27 

Huang Po, Mount, 7 
Hui Gh‘ang, 8 
Hui Hai, 7 

Hui N6ng (Wei Lang), 7, 12, 15, 64, 
78, 117 fn, 

Humphreys, Christmas, 16 
Hung Chou, 7, 100 
Huxley, Aldous, 80 fn. 

I Hsuan, 16 
Icchantikas, 47 
Illusion, 59 

Imperial Salt Commissioners, 
Bureau of, 95 
Inner Light, 11 
Intuitive Knowledge, 17, 19 
J^nW^n, 99fn. 

Jewel of Transcendental Wtsdomy^ 
Journal of Oriental Studies of the 
Catholic University of Peiping, 62 
K‘ai Yuan Monastery, 8, 100 
Kaliraja, 85, 123 
Kao An, 7 
Karma, 35, 106 
Ka§yapa, 50, 52, 66, 1 14 
Katyayana, 117 
Kiangsi, 7 fn. 

Ko, Venerable Master, 70, 111 
K§anti-rishi, 85 
Kuang T‘ang Monastery, 8 
Kuei Tsung, 94, 95, 95 fn. 
Lamaism, 25 
Larikavatara Sutra, 13 
Lao Tzfi, 15 

Law of Ail the Buddhas, 79 
Liebenthal, Dr. W., 62 fn. 

Lin Chi Sect, 16 
Lotus Sutra, 45, 46 fn., 92 
Lung Hsing Monastery, 8 
Ma Tsu (Tao I), 16 
Madhyamikists, 44 fn. 

Mahaka§yapa, 10, 12, 79 
Mahasthama, 32 
Mahayana, 12, 110 



■ id 


Mahayaila Canon, 86 
Mahayana Dharma, 90 
Mahayana Mind, 55 
Mahay anists, 10, 14, 23, 47, 119 
Maitreya, 120 
Manas, 76 fn. 

Manju^rl, 32, 75, 81, 114, 115, 120, 

Mara, 62 

Mental Origins, Doctrine of, 43 
Merit, 34 fn. 

Middle Vehicle, 44 fn. 

Mind, 34 fn., 42, 50, 72, 87j is the 
Buddha, 57; pure, 36 et seq.; 
transmission, 59; using minds to 

Mind-Buddha, 78 
Mind-Seal, 111 
Mind-Source, 39, 44 
Mirror of Concentration and Wis- 
dom, 43 

Mount Huang Po, 94 
Mount T‘ien T‘ai, 94 
Namo Amida Buddha, 25 
Nan Ch^han, 96, 97, 98 
Nan Shan, 98, 99 
NirmEnakaya, 50, 51, 83 
Nirvana, 18, 25, 39, 41, 44 fn., 
46 fn., 50, 73 fn., 75 fn., 93, 
107 fn., 108 fn., 109, 110, 110 fn., 
112, 115, 116, 129 fn., 130 
Non-existent, 78 
Northern School, 15, 117 fn. 
Obaku, 16 

One Mind, 18, 20-21, 22, 29, 32, 
51, 52, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 79, 80, 
93, 97 fn., 103, 103 fn., 108, 
109 fn., 123, 124; doctrine of, 7; 
is the Buddha, 29 
One Vehicle, 73 
One-Vehicle Way, 52 
Ordinary Mind, 57, 58 
Original Nature, 129 
Original Source, 111 
Our Founder, 69 
Oxford University Press, 9 
Padma Sambhava, 11 
ParamitEs, Six, 30, 69 
Pearl, The warrior and the, 37 

P‘ei Hsiu, 20, 23, 26, 27, 29, 100 fn., 

101, 102 

Perennial Philosophy, The, 80 fn. 
Place of Precious Things, 46, 47 
Plotinus, 11 
Prajha, 44, 45 

Pratyeka-Buddhas, 47, 84, 129 
Pratyekas, 44 
Price, Arnold, 9 
Primordial ignorance, 128 
Pun, I. T., 65 

Pure Land Sect, 25, 91, 91 fn. 

Pure Mind, 44 
Raja, Dharma, 56 
Real Nature, Seeing into, 116 
Reality, 17, 18, 55 in,, 61, 69 
Relative truth, 61 
Right Meditation, 14 
Rinzai Sect, 16 
Roots of goodness, 43 
Royal Treasury, 113 
St. John, 121 fn. 

Sakyamuni, 112 
Samantabhadra, 32, 75, 129 
Sambhogakaya, 50, 51 fn., 68, 83 
Sammasamahdi, 14, 25 
Saihsara, 41, 44 fn., 52, 69, 107 fn,, 
129 fn. 

Samyak-Sarhbodhi, 91 
Sanctuary for Enlightment, 128 
Sangha, 76, 77, 96 
Sariputra, 129 
Sariras, 126 
Satori, 95 fn. 

Seal of the Mind, 111 
Seat of Proclaiming of the Law, 52 
Sense organs, Six, 51 
Sensory perceptions. Six, 51 
Sentient beings, 70, 71, 73 
Shantung, 12 
Sh6n Hsiu, 64 
Skandhas, The, 120 
Sole Vehicle of Liberation, 70 
Song of Enlightenment, 62 fn. 
Southern School, 10, 14 
Sramana, 55, 96 

Sravakas, 39, 40, 44, 47, 121, 122, 

State of Holiness and Wisdom, 69 



Sudden Attainment, 69 
Sudden Enlightenment, 16 
Sudhana, 120 

Supreme Enlightenment, 130 
Supreme Experience, 20 
Supreme Way, 40 
Sutra of Hui N^ng, 110 fn. 

Sutra of Wei Lang, The^ 9 
Suzuki, Dr. D. T., 13, 16, 25, 32 fn., 
95 fn. 

Sword of Bodhi, 115 
Sword of Non-Discriminating Wis- 
dom, 115 

Sword of Thusness, 56, 113 
Sword of Truth, 113 
T‘ai Chou, 8 
T‘ai Chung, 8, 96, 132 
T‘ai Hsh, 14 

T'ang Dynasty, 8, 28, 132 
Ta Yii Mountain, 65 
Tao, 55 fn. 

Tao I (see Ma Tsu) 

Taoism, 55 fn., 131 
Tathagata, 35, 50, 52, 57, 63, 64, 
70, 71, 74, 113, 121 
Tathagata Mind, 114 
Tathagatas, Womb of, 56, 77, 92 
Ten Activities, 33 
Ten Beliefs, 33 
Ten Bestowals of Merit, 33 
Ten Stages of Progress Leading to 
Enlightment, 33, 34, 46, 62, 69, 89 
Terrace of the Spirit, 121 
Theravada, 110 
Theravadin School, 23 
Theravadin saints, 105, 122 fn, 
Theravadins, 109, 116, 117, 119 
Thirty-two Characteristic Signs, 73 
Three Jewels in One Substance, 76 
Three Vehicles, 23, 24, 33, 45, 52, 
56, 57, 58, 71, 73, 79, 125 
Three Worlds, 86, 122 
Thusness, 74, 117, 123 
Thusness, Dharma of, 111 
Thusness, Sword of, 56, 113 
Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation^ 9, 
10, 11, 56 fn. 

Ting Fu Pao, 28 ^ „ 

Tower of Spacious Karma, ^ ' 

Trackless One, 104 
Transcendental Buddha, 72 
Transcending the Three Worlds, 86 
Transmission, 103 fn. 

Triple Time, 50 
Triple World, 46, 90, 104, 122 
Triratna, 76 
Truth, 76 fn., 77 fn. 

Ts‘ao Hsi Zen, 130 
Tun Huang, 13 
Two Vehicles, 46 
Ultimate Wisdom, 75 fn. 
Unborn, 29 
Universal Mind, 21 
Universal Nature, 118 
Universal Spirit, 109 fn. 

VEHIGX.E OF Truth, 52 
Vimalakirti, 32, 117, 121 
Void, The, 41, 42, 48, 49, 50, 53, 56 
68, 79, 93, 97 fn., 108, 113, 
122 fn. 

Void Nature, 113 
Vulture Peak, 7 
Wan Lino, 8 
Wan Ling record, 67 et seq. 

Warrior and the pearl, 37 
Way, Studying the, 54 
Way, What is the, 52 
Way of the Buddhas, 75, 88, 92 
Way of Words, 34 
Wei Lang, 7 fn. (see also Hui Ndng) 
Wei Ming, 65 
Wei Shan, 98, 101 
Wei Shih Tsung, 104 
Wisdom of Dispassion, 61 
Womb of Tathagatas, 56, 77, 92 
Wordless Dharma offbe One Mind, 

Wordless Doctrine, 16, 24 
World-Transcender, 46 
Yama, 61 
Yang Shan, 98, 101 
Yung Chia, 62 fn- 
Zazen, 131 fn. 

Zealous application, 85 
Zen, Doctrine of, 16-20; explaining, 
106; origin and expansion of, 

f^en Buddhism^ 16 


Catalogue No. 

294, 30952/Hua/Blo~S7 657 , 

Author — Huang Po. 

Title jtqji teaching of Huang Poj tr. ■